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THE PUPILS OF ST JOHN 



THE DIVINE. 



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THE PUPILS 



ST. JOHN THE DIVINE. 



BY C. M. YONGE, 

Antkor of " The Heir rf Rticfyffe." 




NEW EDITION. 



%va3tm.: 
MACMILLAN AND CO. 




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PREFACE. 

The Pupils of St. John, — is the title a very narrow, 
or a very comprehensive one ? Narrow in one sense, 
for the direct pupils of St. John who can be ascer- 
tained and proved to have been such, and to have 
transmitted his instructions at any length, confine 
themselves to two, with about three more whose 
names and the titles of their works are alone pre- 
served. 

But taken in another light, and regarding as the 
disciples of St John not only those whose biography 
states that they actually sat at his feet and listened 
to his discourses, but those whose tenor of thought 
can be traced to his doctrine; and regarding his 
pupils as churches rather than as single persons, the 
term becomes a very wide one. None of the Apos- 
tles, excepting St. Paul, has so largely contributed 
to Holy Scriptures, or left such visible traces of his 
teaching upon the Church ; and v/hile St Paul's 

a 2 

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PREFACE. 



special office was to plant, St. John's seems to have 
been to organize and systematize. 

Looking back on the history of the Evangelist, 
we see how peculiar was his own preparation for 
his office in the Church. Youngest of all the Twelve, 
yet one of the first to become a follower of our Lord, 
he was especially distinguished by His personal love, 
and admitted, together with his own elder brother 
James, and with Simon Peter, to the sight of those 
deeper and greater manifestations of Divinity from 
which the others were excluded. Yet all this time 
it was the youthful qualities of love and zeal that 
chiefly marked his conduct throughout the Gospel 
history; he did not stand forth and ask or answer 
questions, or enter into arguments on the new sub- 
jects then revealed, as did Peter, Thomas, Philip, 
and Jude; but he followed, he listened, and, like 
the Virgin Mother, laid up these things in his heart 
— above all, those deepest and most spiritual lessons 
that at the moment of their utterance passed over 
the heads of their hearers. 

Still the nearest, and pre-eminent in love during 
the Passion Sorrow and the Resurrection Joy, he was 
yet by his sacred trust, the care of the Blessed Vii^in, 
set aside from the active labours of his brethren 
during the first missions of the Church. In the 
Book of the Acts we find him at first as the com- 



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PREFACE, 



panion of St. Peter at Jerusalem, and then as giving 
his weight to the decision of the Council of Jeru- 
salem upon the mode of treatment of Gentile con- 
verts. After this, he passes almost entirely out of 
sight, while St Luke is occupied with the three great 
missions of St. Paul ; and it is only after the great 
Apostle of the Gentiles, together with all the original 
Twelve save John himself, had finished their course, 
that what is peculiar to him begins. 

And this seems to have been, in an especial manner, 
explanation and organization. Apparently after his 
long residence at Jerusalem, he had been among the 
numerous Jews settled in Parthia; and afterwards, 
when St. Paul's imprisonment had left the Churches 
of Asia without their guide, he fixed himself in the 
midst of them. Then when he alone remained of all 
the Apostolic Band, it was the fit time to give the 
authority of his personal inspiration to the regarding of 
the bishops, on whom they had laid hands, as heirs of 
the same power, and as absolutely their successors 
and representatives in the overseership of the Church. 
This, as the lamented Canon Shirley has pointed out 
in his fragment, probably took place at the meeting 
of the Church which, according to Eusebius, took 
place after St, James's martyrdom, to appoint his 
successor ; and thus St. John stood in the situation 
of the last surviving superior officer of their King's 



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PREFACE, 



own personal choice, handing on to the younger 
band, who had received their commission from these 
first, the certainty that it was meant to be equivalent 
to that original appointment. 

Moreover, Jerusalem, the centre of love to all of 
Jewish birth, and the nominal subject of every glo- 
rious prophecy, had fallen in blood and fire, sind with 
the Temple had gone all the possibility of continuing 
the ritual established for fifteen hundred years, and 
by which Israelites had learnt to see their way to 
approach God. Diligently had St. Paul in three 
Epistles laboured to show that these things were 
only types and shadows of the reality ; but still, while 
the Temple remained, it was scarcely possible to 
wean men's minds from the belief that the triumph 
of Christianity must be in a material but glorified 
Jerusalem ; and the utter ruin of the city, the cessa- 
tion of sacrifice, the loss of the Priesthood, left a sense 
of desolation, only to be relieved by one who had 
grown up under the old system, beheld its culmi- 
nation, and understood the full meaning of the new. 

The other three Gospels had set forth the mission 
of the Messiah fulfilled in our Lord ; tLey had given 
in full His moral teaching, and described the insti- 
tution of the Sacraments. But, when John added his 
fourth Gospel, it was a setting forth that in these 
ordinances was the continuation to the Church of all 



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PREFACE. « 

the old covenant had given. The discourses, hitherto 
kept in reserve, were now made known, showing how 
men were spiritually bom as the true children of 
faithful Abraham, while the participation in the Great 
Sacrifice was vouchsafed to them continually, by 
means of what Christians already possessed in the 
Sacraments ordained by Christ himself. The First 
Epistle — ^the preface as it seems, to the Gospel — sets 
forth the faith and love which above all things are 
needful to bring or to maintain the Christian in this 
spiritual state. 

And in the great vision which the Apostle was 
commissioned to describe, he beheld the veritable 
heavenly Jerusalem, and was shown the realization 
above of all the shadows of the Law, as well as how 
the faithful on earth have their present share in the 
glories and blessings that shall in time reach per- 
fection. 

Besides all this, St John, answering present needs, 
gives the first and deadliest blows to the crop of 
errors that men's busy fancies were leading them 
into ; and from the very force of his intense love to 
his Master, he speaks with the sternest severity to 
those who fall from the faith. In his addresses to 
the Seven Churches, he, or more truly his Lord, 
likewise reproves all the principal forms of evil into 
which the Church would at any time be prone to 



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riii PREFACE. 



fall ; and in the latter part of the Visions he carries 
prophecy on, gives tlie key to the Christian fulfilment 
of almost every Book of the Elder Testament, and, 
as it were, points and collects into one faith, one 
hope, one meaning, all those writings of the last 
i»500 years by which God had spoken to man. 

Such was St. John's work — to gather together what 
his brother Apostles had done, and to hand on to the 
Church Universal the sense of the enjoyment of all 
that was promised to the chosen people of old. As 
Joshua in his old age, in the promised land, had 
called Israel to witness that no good thing had failed 
that the Lord had promised them, and only warned 
them of the future, so St. John showed his people 
that they were within their promised land, in the 
complete enjoyment of their spiritual promises, and, 
while regulating them in their inheritance, warned 
them of the traps and snares beyond. 

And St. John's first pupils — " the mighty men that 
over-lived " him— have shown his manifold influence 
in their histories, so far as we know them. Ignatius, 
with his zeal for self-sacrifice, and his earnest desire 
to impress the need of Church unity through the 
bishop and his flock ; Quadratus, boldly meeting 
philosophy on its own ground ; Polycarp, striving for 
the faith, and rejoicing in the flame; even the poor 
repentant robber, rescued by the love of the Apostle, 



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PREFACE, 



and Papias, with his pious though ignorant and 
material hopes, — all testify to the strong personal 
impress of his teaching and character. And from 
these direct scholars, we have passed to their scholars, 
and to those Churches with which St. John's name 
is chiefly connected. Thus we have the Chris- 
tian philosopher Melito of Sardis, Theophilus of 
Antioch, arguing between Revelation and Mythology ; 
Aristo of Pella carrying on the exposition of the 
types of the Law ; Irenaeus of Lyons continuing St 
John's own. work of refuting the false Gnostic philo- 
sophy, and collecting the last traditions respecting 
the great Evangelist And again, we find the 
Churches founded or superintended by him showing 
their constancy and joy in the deadliest of per- 
secutions. In Gaul, Smyrna, Antioch, and Parthia, 
all Churches on which the influence of St. John or 
his immediate followers had told, noble instances 
of martyrdom took place — as indeed they did in 
all the Christian world, until the full victory over 
heathenism under Julian was finally gained ; for not 
these cities only, but every true Christian, must be 
taught by St. John. 

On this principle, then, has this little book been 
composed, — namely, that of following as far as may 
be the life of the Apostle himself, then those of his 
immediate disciples, and beyond them of the persons 



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xiv PREFACE. 



who had been instructed by their teaching; then 
of showing how the Churches thus formed met trial 
and persecution, and, as far as possible, sketching 
the vicissitudes of their history to the present time. 
This has, of course, been very imperfectly done. 
Materials are scanty ; some of them are uncertain, 
and without real knowledge of the classical languages 
can only be used at all at second-hand ; and in spite 
of referring to the best modem authorities, such igno- 
rance must tell in a work of this kind, which has 
perhaps been presumptuously undertaken. 

Great pains, however, have been taken with it, in 
the earnest hope that it may at least draw attention 
to the remarkable position and influence of the great 
Apostle and Evangelist; and also that, to the un- 
learned reader who has not access to large libraries, it 
may help to bridge over that first space of Church his- 
tory that lies close beyond the conclusion of the Acts 
of the Apostles. And the example of St. John and 
his pupils is one that none can look at, as we hope, 
without being strongly moved towards the burning 
faith, love, zeal, and constancy that they possessed. 
May it be so with the readers of this feeble attempt ; 
and if they are not so already, may they be thus 
impelled themselves to become direct and personal 
pupils of St John, the simplest, the sweetest, yet 
the deepest and most sublime of writers, full of the 



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PREFACE. 



soaring might, yet the tender brooding love shadowed 
forth by the Eagle he saw beside the Throne. What 
better can be wished for us all than that we should 
show ourselves indeed the disciples of St John ! 

Yet, not exclusively. Some of the classes here 
mentioned professed to be pupils of St John, to the 
exclusion of his fellow-labourers. Such gained a one- 
sided view of the truth, and soon became perverted. 
For as in ancient times narrow Judaism, so in 
modern days wild fancies of apocalyptic interpre- 
tation, have shown the evil of only studying in one 
line, — without the balance. Therefore it is to the 
Master, not to the servant, that the discipleship can 
safely and truly belong. 

May this little book prove, if not a help, at least 
no hindrance in that direction. 

It has been put together, according to the general 
design of the " SUNDAY LIBRARY," to afford reading 
which may accord with what should be the character 
of the Sunday. The habits of the time are somewhat 
tending to secularize the Sunday, rendering it, in the 
desire that it should not be weary, less set apart for a 
holyday than it has been. But if religious books are 
not read on a Sunday, they are generally not read at 
all ; and surely it is well that all on that day should 
bear a sort of Easter consecration, and should be 
bright without frivolity, enjoyable with as little as 
possible of the earthiness of every-day life. 



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xvi PREFACE. 

Therefore it has been hoped that some of the 
highest and purest examples of past lives, and some 
of the most striking words of holy men of old, put 
forth in an attractive and easily accessible form, may 
fill up a want that has been felt in some families, of 
reading at once interesting and not too much alien 
to the thoughts suited to the "Easter-day of every 
week." 

As may be seen by the list of authors, no one 
class of opinions has been exclusively represented; 
and since no one can write well or heartily who 
does not completely express his own conviction, 
the authors cannot be responsible for each other's 
expressions of belief. 

C. M. YONGE. 
January 23, i86;S. 



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CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. 

PAOK 
THB WONDER OF THE WOULD T 



CHAPTER 11. 

ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE lO 

CHAPTER III. 

THE BELOVED DISCIPLE ^ . I9 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE PARTING OF BRETHREN « 4I 

CHAPTER V. 

THE EVANGELIST. 61 

CHAPTER VI. 

THE EXILE OF PATMOS JX 



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xviii CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

PACK 

THE APOSTLE OF LOVE . • 96 



CHAPTER VIII. 

IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT IO3 

CHAPTER IX. 

THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES I43 

CHAPTER X. 

THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST 154 

CHAPTER XI. 

QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER 169 

CHAPTER XII. 

HOW POLYCARP PLAYED THE MAN IN THE FIRE 1 79 

CHAPTER XIII. 

PAPIAS AND MELITO, THE CREDULOUS AND THE THOUGHTFUL 

BELIEVER 201 

CHAPTER XIV. 

THE WITNESSES IN GAUL 214 



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CONTENTS, xix 



CHAPTER XV. 

PAGB 
IRENiKUS, THE CHAMPION OF THE FAITH 235 

CHAPTER XVI. 

TRIBULATION AT SMYRNA 25O 

CHAPTER XVII. 

ST. SIMEON OF SELEUCIA AND THE PARTHIANS 265 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE VICTORY 279 

CHAPTER XIX. 

THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN 299 

CHAPTER XX. 

PRESENT ASPECT OF ST. JOHN'S CHURCHES 3IO 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAGE 

POLYCARP^S PRAYER Frontispiece. 

ST. JOHN AND THE ROBBER To face ^ii 

THE DREAM 07 THE TRIUMPHANT MOURNERS . » ,> I40 



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THE PUPILS OF ST. JOHN 
THE DIVINE. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE WONDER OF THE WORLD. 

*'From haunted spring and dale. 
Edged with poplar pale; 
The parting genius is with sighing sent, 
With flower-enwoven tresses torn, 
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.'' 

Milton. 

A GLANCE at the map of Anatolia, or Asia Minor, 
shows that it is a region where travelling is extremely 
difficult. The great peninsula is all seamed with 
ridges of steep hills, with valleys between them. 
When the valleys come down to the sea-coast, the 
water fills them up, and makes deep gulfs and bays, 
and when the mountains reach the sea, they stand 
out into it as capes and headlands ; and further on, 
where all but their summits are submerged, these rise 
above the sea, and form the many rocky islands that 
are scattered through the waters of the Archipelago. 
Down every mountain height dashes a torrent, and 
B 



M 



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2 THE WONDER OF THE WORLD. 

these torrents meeting together join into streams and 
rivers, that flow on along the valleys to the sea, 
bringing with them all the earth and fragments of 
stone or gravel they have washed off the mountains. 
When, in spring, the snow melts on the tops of the 
hills, these rivers swell and come out in floods, spread- 
ing all over the valleys, and covering them with the 
soil they have brought from above. 

A traveller, riding along the sea-coast, would some- 
times be hindered by having to clamber over steep 
ridges of hill, with sides of rock, making dangerous 
precipices ; sometimes would have to cross rivers run- 
ning fast enough to sweep him off his feet, and so 
icily cold from the snow that feeds them, that they 
would chill him to the bone, and might even cause 
his death ; sometimes he would have to creep cau- 
tiously along the shore, taking care not to be lost in 
quicksands by the sea, or stuck in the bogs round the 
rivers, or overwhelmed by the water. All the way it 
would be very beautiful; the land side rising up in 
fine shapes of hills, many of them shining white with 
snow, and looking very near in the clear bright air, 
and the valleys between green with beauteous grass, 
and fine trees, and choice flowers. Out towards the 
west there would be the blue sea — blue and bright 
beyond our home imagination; and here and there 
with beautifully shaped rocky islands standing out, 
purple with a rich soft bloom, or brought into clear 
full light by full sunshine, and with white-sailed 
vessels passing between them. But, for all its beauty, 
it would be a very dangerous journey, not only on 



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THE WONDER OF THE WORLD, 3 

account of the precipices, the rivers, and the bogs, 
but because there are plenty of robbers hidden in 
the narrow ravines of the hills, ready to leap out on 
travellers in difficulties, and either shoot them down 
with their long guns or make them prisoners, and 
threaten them till they have paid a heavy ransom. 
Indeed, it is hardly possible to travel at all without 
a guard of soldiers. 

Another difficulty is that there are few towns, and 
the villages are mostly of very dreary huts, so that it 
is hard to get food or shelter for the night. But it is 
plain that this was not so always. By most of the 
rivers, in all the larger valleys, there are heaps of 
ruins. Fragments of stone piers run out into the sea, 
and here and there tall marble pillars stand up like 
sentinels over the heaps of broken stones around 
them ; the hovels of the few inhabitants are built 
up confusedly of pieces of beautiful marble, carved 
with foliage or animals, and the goats and their kids 
nestle under overthrown altars, with inscriptions in 
old Greek letters, hidden by the luxuriant leaves of 
the acanthus. 

Opposite the isle of Samos is the mouth of the 
river Cayster ; and along the banks lies a whole world 
of these fragments. There are high hills crowned 
with pine-trees on either side above, and many of 
them are cut away into quarries of fine marble, which 
once built those ruined temples and halls, and still 
bear the marks of the tool, though it has not been 
lifted up on them for a thousand years. 

At their foot lie broad meadows, forming a valley 
B 2 

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4 THE WONDER OF THE WORLD, 

on either side the meandering rivers, broken up by 
salt marshes and great pools, and thickly bestrewn with 
ruins, which come far up the slope of the southern 
hill, where fine fragments of houses and temples 
peep out from among the thickets and brushwood. 

It is hardly possible to walk among the pools and 
marshes below, but on the hill side there can still be 
found the great amphitheatre, a place shaped like an 
enormous horse-shoe, cut out in galleries, mounting 
higher and higher one behind the other, all in the 
solid rock, and looking down into an open flat place 
beneath, to which the well-marked race-course leads 
up. Bits of square towers and remains of gateways 
show the old inclosure of the city to have been very 
large ; but where men once swarmed to the market- 
place, or the harbour, there now is scarcely a living 
thing. Eagles sweep round the heights, and have 
their nests in the crags, white sea-birds float high 
or low between the blue sea and blue sky, tall lonely 
herons stand on one leg in the marsh, watching for 
fish, jackals prowl and howl at night, and by day per- 
haps little flocks of silky-haired goats, or fat-tailed 
sheep, are driven out to pasture by brown half-naked 
children. If the little shepherds were asked where 
they lived, and were not too shy to answer at all, 
they would point to some huts on a hill a little way 
off, and would say, " Ayasaluk." 

And what is the meaning of Ayasaluk }* The 
people who use the word little understand it, for they 

* Some explain it as Asalook, the city of the moon, meaning the lame 
as EphesuS; but this is not so probable. 



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THE WONDER OF THE WORLD. 5 

are only Turkish peasants ; but even they own by the 
very word by which they call their abode that a 
great man once dwelt there. For Ayasaluk is an 
alteration of the Greek words Hagios TheologoSy and 
these mean Holy Divine, or writer upon the things 
concerning God. 

When those ruins were upright, when those walls 
with their square towers and deep gateways stood 
in all their strength, guarded by resolute Roman 
sentries, when the harbour was crowded with ships 
from all ports, when that amphitheatre was fitted 
with marble benches, and thronged with spectators, 
when the valleys and slopes of the hill stood thick 
with goodly dwellings and swarmed with busy 
crowds, who would have believed that the only name 
that would remain to mark the spot was that of one 
aged fisherman, the son of a hated people, without 
a country or a home — for the terrible destruction of 
the city of his fathers was still fresh in the memory 
of all men 1 

What 1 would they have said, should the time ever 
come that they should be beholden to an old exile 
for a title for their great city of Ephesus, called by 
all men the Eye of Asia, and containing the wonder 
of the world, the temple of the great goddess 
Artemis, or Diana, whose image had fallen down 
from heaven itself, and after whom the city was often 
called the Guardian of the Goddess ? 

That image was their pride. The whole temple 
was centred round a small cell, where it stood in a 
shrine inclosed by a rich curtain. Round the ceii 



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6 THE WONDER OF THE WORLD 

were colonnades of pillars, each sixty feet high, and 
of beautiful marble, and of jasper, porphyry, and all 
that was precious, each given by a king. There were 
127 of these ranged in an oblong form, making a 
double rank, not rooted over ; but within these was 
another parallelogram of pillars which were roofed 
with cedar, and contained a building with doors of 
cedar wood, and a staircase made from a single vine 
of the isle of Cyprus. Altars smoked in front of this 
building, beautiful statues adorned the colonnades, on 
the pillars many a brave soldier had hung his own 
weapons or those he had taken from the enemy, trea- 
sures from all the East were heaped in the chambers 
round the cell, and within was the goddess — shown 
on a few rare and festive occasions to favoured 
worshippers. 

What was she like ? Was she a lovely statue or 
a beautiful huntress-queen, crowned with the crescent 
moon, the quiver at her back, the bow in her hand, 
the fawn at her side, carved by the choicest art in 
ivory, as might have befitted the dweller in the inner- 
most shrine of the noblest temple in the world } No, 
— she was a little rude lump of black stone, the part 
from the waist downward not shaped at all, and the 
upper part merely carved out into a head, a pair of 
arms, and an immense number of teats, supposed to 
express that she nourished the whole earth like a 
mother; and there were strange old letters carved, 
on her. 

Nothing could well be uglier; but this frightful 
figure had been worshipped at Ephesus long before 



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THE WONDER OF THE WORLD. 7 

history or recollection began, and it was therefore 
thought to have been made in heaven, and sent down 
by the father of the gods for the Ephesians to guard 
and worship. They had thought no cost over much 
for such a treasure ; and, while they were building 
their temple, and looking for marble beautiful enough 
for it, it so happened that two rams, in a flock of 
sheep that were feeding on the mountain side, began 
to fight, and one trying to butt at the other, missed 
him, and, striking against a rock with his horns, tore 
away the crust that had overgrown it, and showed 
beneath the purest white marble. The shepherd ran 
into the city with the tidings, and the marble proved 
to be so valuable that he was ever after called 
Evangelus, or the messenger of good tidings, and 
a statue was set up to him in the temple. 

The temple built of that marble was so exquisitely 
beautiful as to rank among the seven wonders of the 
world. And when it was burnt down, on the night 
of the birth of Alexander the Great, that which has 
been described was built up with still greater splen- 
dour. Multitudes of priests and priestesses conducted 
the worship ; the former were among the richest and 
most leading people of the city, and the priestesses, 
who were called the melissce or bees, were held in high 
honour, and had crowds of slaves under them. Grand 
festivals took place there, in the month of May, which 
was called Artemisium, in honour of the goddess, 
when the amphitheatre was crowded with spectators, 
who listened to hymns sung, watched plays performed, 
or applauded matches in running, wrestling, or the 



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« THE WONDER OF THE WORLD. 

like, all in honour of the great Artemis; and the 
noblest men in the country took it in turn to preside 
over these feasts as Asiarchs. All round the temple 
dwelt persons who dealt in scrolls bearing the letters 
of the image. By these all sorts of spells were wrought, 
and they were thought to secure good luck. Deep 
study was expended, and many scrolls written, on 
these rude letters scratched on the black stone, and 
many magic arts depended on them. Kings spoke 
the words in the extremity of danger, and to carry 
copies of them about the person was thought to 
prevent defeat. There was a perfect school of con- 
jurors and magicians, who reaped no small gain in 
the month of the goddess. It was a festival for the 
whole world. Rich men came from far and wide to 
offer their gifts, conquerors hung up their spoils, those 
who had made their vows paid them. The building 
was the favourite pattern for other temples to the 
goddess, and the chief trade of the inhabitants was 
making little silver, ivory, or even gold, models of the 
temple, to be sold to the many pilgrims to the shrine. 
The temple and the goddess were marked on the 
coins of the city, and Diana of the Ephesians was 
the glory of the East. 

Where is the temple now } You may look in vain 
among the ruins of Ephesus. Not the least trace can 
be found. A few of the columns may be found in 
distant lands, but the site of the building is lost. 
And as to the true Evangelus of Ephesus, ne is, 
indeed, a shepherd who taught how the Temple may 
be built of pure stones of the Living Rock ; and he 



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THE WONDER OF THE WORLD, 9 

is that very old man, the Holy Divine, whose name 
is traced in Ayasaluk, the only spot where human 
life remains in once-glorious Ephesus. 

Nay, it was the good tidings of which he was a 
messenger that really overthrew the great temple, and 
destroyed the hideous little black goddess to whom so 
many noble souls had so long been in bondage. 



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CHAPTER .11 

ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 

**0 ye vain false gods of Hellas, 
Ye are silent evermore." — E, B. Browning. 

The first blow at the idol-worship of Ephesus had 
been struck nearly forty years before John, the son of 
Zebedee, the fisherman of Galilee, chose it for his 
abode. 

Ephesus, like every other great city of the Roman 
Empire, had among its inhabitants many Jews. Ever 
since the Jews had been carried captive to Babylon, 
they had remained scattered through the cities of the 
East and West. It was true that their Temple and 
their holy city of Jerusalem had been rebuilt, and 
they all regarded these as their centre of worship and 
their home; but the rocky hills of Judea would hardly 
have maintained a numerous nation, and at Babylon 
the Jews had learnt that remarkable skill and aptitude 
for trade which has ever since distinguished them. 
Their Divine laws, too, gave them such high principles 
of honesty and uprightness of dealing that they were 
trusted as were no other persons, and were often chosen 
for high and responsible positions. All this led to 



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ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. u 

their taking up their residence in many places at a 
distance from Jerusalem. They would at least once 
in their lives visit the Temple at one of the great 
festivals of the year ; they regularly sent a portion ol 
their gains for the embellishment and maintenance of 
the Temple and its services, and they met every Sab- 
bath-day to worship in their own synagogues, where 
their Scriptures were read, psalms were sung, and 
prayers offered. 

The Greek language had become universal in the 
East, and these dispersed Jews had so entirely forgot- 
ten their own Hebrew that the Greek version of the 
Scriptures was read after the portion in the original 
language, and seems to have been in the hands of 
every-one. 

All this was silently undermining the worship of 
this black goddess. The persons who lived in in- 
tercourse with the Jews were likely to be struck 
with their pure spiritual worship and high standard 
of duty ; they inquired into their law, and read the 
glorious writings of Moses and the Prophets with 
much admiration. Some persons were convinced, 
many noble ladies held to the Jewish law, and many 
more had a sort of half-hearted belief, thinking 
much of the Jewish faith beautiful, but unwilling 
to give up the grandeur and feasts of the heathen 
gods, or to join with a people who were disliked and 
despised. 

Among the Jews of the dispersion and their half- 
converted friends, there gradually spread a report that 
there were persons at Jerusalem who declared that 



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\2 ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 



the long hoped-for Christ had come, that the promises 
made first to Adam and Eve, and then renewed to 
the patriarchs and prophets, were accomplished, and 
that the great redemption of all the world had really- 
taken place. 

But no one in these Greek cities heeded greatly 
such stories. The Jews were busy with traffic, the 
Greeks, some with philosophy, some with poetry and 
amusement, and the Romans with public business and 
military discipline. It was no uncommon thing to 
hear that a false Christ had appeared at Jerusalem, 
and indeed the Jews who resided there were becom- 
ing so turbulent and so fierce in their resistance to 
Roman authority that their more moderate Graecised 
kinsmen feared to be involved in their disgrace, 
especially when tidings came that the Emperor 
Claudius had driven out all the Jews who had settled 
at Rome. 

One Sabbath-day in the 8o8th year since Rome had 
been founded, or, as we reckon, in the year 55, one of 
these expelled Jews, a tentmaker by trade, came into 
the Jewish synagogue at Ephesus, with his wife, and 
another tent-maker, whom he had met at Corinth. 
It soon was known that this second tent-maker, a 
small, slender man, with a noble and earnest coun- 
tenance, was that Cilician Benjamite, at home called 
by his Jewish name of Saul, and enrolled as a Roman 
citizen as Paulus, who, after having been a vehement 
persecutor of the believers in Christ, had become 
the most zealous among them, and had already 
travelled through many cities both of Asia and 



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ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. ij 

of Greece, declaring the faith that he had so heartily 
embraced. 

After the reading of the Scripture, it was cus- 
tomary that one of the assembly should stand up to 
expound, and any learned stranger did so of right 
Thus Paul, who was well known to be a scholar of 
the most learned Jewish masters, as well as deeply 
versed in Greek culture, naturally stood up and 
spoke. What he then said, proving that it was indeed 
the true Christ who had appeared in Judea, made 
such an impression on his hearers that they be- 
sought him to remain and explain further, but he 
was bent upon reaching Jerusalem in time for the 
approaching feast, and proceeded at once, leaving 
behind him, however, his companions, Aquila and 
Priscilla. 

They, though less instructed, kept the interest his 
words had excited from dying away, and they were 
further assisted by Apollos, a Greek Jew, of the great 
school of Alexandria, who had gathered up some 
knowledge of the Saviour, and eagerly proclaimed it, 
imperfect as it was, till he was further taught by 
Aquila and his wife. 

Thus, when Paul returned the next year to Ephesus, 
he found twelve men already eager to understand 
more, and to be admitted to the full blessings which 
the true Christ had brought to them. He continued 
his teachings in the synagogue, but after a time he 
found that so many were hardened against his doc- 
trine that he ceased to preach there, and betook himself 
to one of the schools where philosophers were wont 



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14 ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 

to argue on questions of life and death, right and 
wrong, and to instruct their pupils. 

This was the beginning of the warfare with the 
great goddess of Ephesus. Hitherto Paul had dealt 
with Jews, already known to abhor idolatry. Them 
he had to convince that jESUS is the Christ, and to 
them he spoke as the learned pupil of the great Rabbi 
Gamaliel. But when he stood forth in the school of 
Tyrannus, he had to argue as a Greek philosopher, 
and to begin by proving that there is but one God 
Almighty, and that idols- are mere vain things. For 
two full years he thus taught at Ephesus, and the 
great gift of miracles that accompanied his words 
had great effect. The priests of Diana pretended to 
miraculous gifts in her name, and hosts of diviners 
and magicians dwelt round the temple, pretending 
to guide the inquiries or influence the luck of her 
devotees; but their incantations and secret arts 
seemed to shrivel up beside the openly worked 
miracles of St Paul, and not merely the worshippers, 
but the magicians themselves, were convinced of the 
delusion in which they had lived. 

Many a man who had yearned after truth, and 
struggled to find it through curious arts, now brought 
his bewildering books together, costly though they 
were, burnt them, and with free unburdened heart 
drank at the pure well of truth, and knew how 
muddy were the wells he had left behind him. Here 
Timotheus, Paul's young half-Jew companion, became 
known and loved, and a warm affection sprang up 
Setween the Apostle and his large flock of believers. 



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ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 15 

All was peace, until the success of the new teacher 
began to alarm the numerous silversmiths who had 
hitherto made the little models of the Temple of 
Diana. What was to become of their trade if people 
ceased to worship idols, and to buy models of the 
temple ? 

Paul had founded his Church at Ephesus. For 
nearly three years he had been able to teach full 
Christian doctrine, and had ordained elders or priests 
to carry on the teaching, and conduct the worship of 
the Church in his absence, and it was time to leave 
them for the present. He had already sent on 
Timotheus, and was waiting to follow till he had 
kept his Pentecost with the Ephesians, when the 
month of May arrived — the month of the feast of 
the goddess ; and the silversmiths finding some slack- 
ness in their trade, deemed it the effect of the new 
philosophy. 

A most frightful tumult was raised . among the 
Ephesian mechanics. Into the market-place and 
theatre, and over the hill-side, they rushed, howling for 
vengeance . on the man who would ruin the pride of 
their city, and source of their profits. The authorities 
warned Paul to keep himself in retirement, and, though 
he would have ventured forth, his friends prevailed to 
withhold him, and only a few of his converts were 
dragged into the theatre. The tumult was intolerable, 
and all the more so as many who made the most 
noise were ignorant of the cause. The rock-hewn 
galleries, still remaining on the face of the rock, re- 
echoed to these howls, and, when the Jews put forward 



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i6 ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 

one of their number to explain, the rage of the mob 
against such a known contemner of idols became 
unanimous, and for two whole hours they shouted 
with deafening cries, " Great is Diana of the 
Ephesians ! " 

When at length they could shout no longer, one 
of their magistrates stood up and appeased them. 
He said that, as their precious image had fallen from 
heaven, it was not insulted by any preaching against 
figures made by human hands. If any man had 
suffered real injury, let him go to law ; but as to this 
uproar, it could only bring on them the displeasure 
of the authorities, and therefore the best thing to be 
done was to go home quietly in peace. 

And, having thus exhausted themselves, the mob 
took his advice and slunk home, nor does it appear 
that for a long course of years the Ephesian Church 
was exposed to danger. Paul went away in the 
evening, and was not seen again in the city, though, 
after two years, when he was again returning to 
Jerusalem, when his ship touched at Miletus, about 
twenty or thirty miles from Ephesus, he sent the 
elders a message to come and meet him there. 

Over the hills these faithful priests hastened to the 
mouth of that tortuous river Meander, whence the 
very term " meandering " is taken. There upon the 
beach, his ship lying ready, stood their beloved 
Apostle watching for them, and then, as they stood 
round him, he spoke tenderly to them, warning them 
to guard their flock against the grievous wolves who 
he already foresaw would enter in among them, and 



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ARTEMIS A TTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 17 



exhorting them to diligence in their holy task, the 
more because he believed that they would see his 
face no more. Together on the wild sea-shore did 
the Apostle and his elders kneel together and pray, 
until the moment of parting came, the Apostle went 
on board with sails spreading for the south, and bonds 
and imprisonment before him, and the priests, as they 
strained their eyes after his lessening ship, were " sor- 
rowing most of all for the words that he said, that 
they should see his face no more." 

Still the altars of Artemis smoked, still her silver 
shrines were sold, still signs and seals bore her im- 
press; but the little band of Christians heeded her 
little, and kept up their deep love. Two of their 
number had gone with Paul, Trophimus and Tychicus, 
and shared his danger at Jerusalem, when the Jews, 
fancying he had brought Trophimus within the bounds 
of that part of the Temple appropriated to Jews, 
made that terrible uproar from which the Apostle was 
only rescued by the Romans. 

After nearly four years, the loving hearts of the 
Ephesians were rejoiced by the return of Tychicus, 
bearing a letter from St. Paul, written from that 
hired house at Rome, where, under the guard of a 
soldier, he was living, awaiting his trial by the Em- 
peror Claudius. It is a letter full of peace and joy, 
dwelling first on the Love that has redeemed and set 
us free, setting forth the glorious state to which 
Christians are raised, and then showing how pure 
holy lives are needful, and how each person, in each 
station, old and young, master or servant, parent or 

c 



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i8 ARTEMIS ATTACKED IN HER TEMPLE. 

child, husband or wife, may live as becomes the 
member of a risen Lord. 

After the feverish magic of the wild feast of 
Artemis, the calm, lofty teaching of that beauteous 
letter must truly have made the Ephesians feel them- 
selves "sitting together in heavenly places." And 
thus it was that their city was prepared to become 
the special home and head-quarters of the holy man, 
who may be called both the first and last of the 
disciples of our Lord. 



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CHAPTER III. 



THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 



*' Two brothers freely cast their lot 
With David's royal Son, 
The cost of conquest counting not : 
They deem the battle won.*' — J, H, Newman. 

John was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of either 
Bethsaida or Capernaum, and of Salome, who is said 
by Papias (one of St. John's own pupils) to have been 
either the sister of the Blessed Virgin, or the daughter 
of her husband Joseph by a former marriage. He had 
a brother named James, who seems to have been a year 
or two older than himself, and they were both brought 
up to assist their father and his hired servants in fishing 
upon the lake of Gennesaret. This lake is formed by 
the spreading out of the river Jordan at the feet of the 
mountains of Galilee, and it is very beautiful, often 
as clear as glass, and reflecting the tall hills and 
rocks above it, though sometimes, when a fierce wind 
sweeps down on it from the narrow clefts among the 
hills, it is all torn and tossed up, and dashes about in 
foam and spray. It is full of delicious fish, and many 
persons got their livelihood by fishing from their boats, 
Spreading out long nets, with weights at the bottom 

C 2 



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20 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE, 



to keep them upright under water, and then drawing 
them up when the fish had become entangled in the 
meshes. In the time of St. John, the hills and valleys 
of Galilee were closely filled with people. There were 
little villages nestling in the green valleys, or perched 
on hill tops, always with walls of rough stone to guard 
them, and there were larger cities, some on the lake 
side and some on the hills. Many of the fishermen, 
farmers, and the like, were of the old tribes of Zebu- 
Ion and Naphthali, to whom Galilee had first been 
given ; and there were besides rich men in the cities 
who paid court to Herod Antipas, the half-Jewish, 
half-Edomite prince, who had only a fourth part of 
the power of his terrible father, Herod the Great. 
Also there were in every chief place Roman soldiers, 
to keep guard over the country for the Emperor Tibe- 
rius Caesar, and Roman tax-gatherers, who employed 
publicans under them to collect tribute for the Govern- 
ment. The common people spoke Syriac, the rich and 
noble spoke Greek, and the Romans Latin, but as 
everybody knew a little Greek, it was the language in 
which business was managed by persons of different 
nations. As Zebedee does not seem to have been 
a very poor man, his sons would probably have been 
taught Greek as well as to read their own Hebrew 
Scriptures and understand the rules of the law, and 
every year, after they were thirteen years old they 
would go up to Jerusalem for the three great feasts, 
before and after harvest and after the vintage. There 
they would see the beautiful city rising on her own 
mountain, and crowned by the gilded pinnacles of her 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE.: 



marble temple. They would be admitted to the court, 
surrounded with marble cloisters, and there watch the 
burning of the sacrifices on the great altar, attended 
to by priests in white garments, and by bands of 
Levites, who, standing on the steps, chanted the 
Psalms with all the glory of stately music ; and in 
front of the Holy Place, where none save priests 
might enter, could be seen the great golden vine, 
whose clusters of molten grapes were of the height 
of a man. 

And yet no one could really and thoughtfully dwell 
on the religion of the Jews, and be happy about him- 
self. God had given a law so perfect that no one 
could keep it, and the threats against those who broke 
it had been proved to be in awful earnest. Dull, self- 
satisfied people were apt to fancy that they were keep- 
ing it perfectly, but this could never be with the 
deeper souls who had a finer sense of the purity of 
the standard to which they ought to attain. All the 
old confessions of holy men of old did but show that 
they too felt that their guilt needed to be taken away, 
and that they looked forward to some great sacrifice 
to be made by a mighty King, who would gain the 
victory over all that was evil, and bring with him 
peace and glory. 

There was at the time John was growing up, a feel- 
ing that this great Deliverer was soon to be looked 
for, and every one watched for signs of His coming, 
but they were apt to think much more of the great 
kingdom that was promised than of the freedom 
from sin, and though the prophecies declared that 



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22 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 

the Anointed, the Messiah or Christ, as they were 
wont to call their Deliverer, must suffer as well as 
reign, no one attended to this sadder part of the 
prediction. 

When John was between twenty and twenty-five 
years old, it was reported in Galilee that a priest, who 
had been brought up in the deserts, was preaching in 
a wonderful manner on the banks of the Jordan, and 
that all men were going to hear him. Many Galileans 
went, and among them the young John, and there, 
among the rocks and thickets of the deep ravine of 
the swift Jordan, stood the spare form of the priest, 
John the son of Zacharias, wrapped in a coarse dark 
garment of such cameFs hair as was used for the tents 
of the Arabs. To all who came to him, he showed 
their sins. He let no one rest in the fancy that his own 
way of keeping the law was the right one, but held up 
before them its beautiful but terrible purity, and their 
own shortcomings, and then, when their hearts were 
beating with pain and shame, and longing to do better, 
he washed them in the pure rapid stream, as a token 
of their repentance and desire to cleanse themselves. 

But would that water purify their souls as it purified 
their bodies ? Alas ! no. It gave no forgiveness, no 
strength to do better. That must be left for the great 
Deliverer, the Messiah. Many had hoped that the 
Baptist was the Messiah, but he clearly declared that 
he was not, and that he was only the voice that the 
prophet Isaiah had declared should foretell His 
coming and closely precede it. He even declared that 
his own light should grow dim and pass away before 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 23 

the surpassing brightness that was coming; and at 
last one day when his hearers, and John among them, 
were crowding round him, he said, ** Behold the Lamb 
of God, that taketh away the sins of the world." 
He added that One was standing among the throng 
Whom they knew not, Whose very shoes he himself 
was not worthy to unloose, but that he had not been 
aware of Who that Holy One was until, submitting to 
baptism. He had been marked out by the tokens of 
the descending Dove and the voice from heaven. The 
crowd dispersed, and Who this Person was had not 
been understood ; but the next day, as John (as it 
seems) and a much older man, Andrew, his father's 
partner in fishing, were standing with the Baptist, he 
pointed to a single figure passing by, and again said : — 

" Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the 
sins of the world." 

It was Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, a kinsman 
both of the Baptist and of John, Whom, if they had 
already known Him, they had never thought of as the 
Deliverer. Nevertheless, they joined Him, and at 
His invitation, went with Him to the place where He 
was passing the night, and there they became so im- 
pressed by the holiness and heavenliness that breathed 
around Him, that from that time they never doubted 
that such ineffable goodness could alone belong to the 
Messiah, however different He was in other respects 
from the Messiah of their imagination. 

Andrew went in search of his own brother Simon, 
and of two more Galilean neighbours, who had like- 
wise come out to hear the Baptist, and fully believed 



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24 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE 

the glad tidings that '' we have found the Messiah." 
All then returned together to Galilee to attend a 
wedding-feast at the village of Cana^ and here for the 
first time the disciples became aware of their Master's 
miraculous power, which, as St John himself tells us, 
clenched their belief. 

The time for the Passover was at hand, and these 
five joined themselves to jESUS for the pilgrimage on 
foot* to Jerusalem. Probably there were others with 
them, including James the brother of John ; and both 
on the way and at Jerusalem there was more and 
more to impress their souls with intense reverence, 
and certainty that they were with One who spake as 
man never yet spake. 

On their return, it was the summer season of labour, 
and each man betook himself to his usual work. 
James and John returned to their father, and, in com- 
pany with Andrew and Simon, nightly swept the lake 
for fish. One morning, however, when they had toiled 
all night and taken nothing, and were wearily seated 
on the shore washing out the weed and slime from 
their empty nets, they saw their Master approaching, 
closely pressed by a dense crowd who had learnt 
to listen to His teachings, and to bring the sick 
to be healed by His touch. To avoid the throng. 
He entered Simon's boat, and, bidding him push out 
into the lake, continued the discourse from the boat. 

After this. He bade that the nets should be again 
lowered, and the fishermen, though unused to catch 
by day, and having toiled all night in vain, obeyed, 
and were recompensed by the enormous number of 



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THE BELO VED DIS CIPLE. 2 5 

fish that thronged their net, even till it began to break. 
But even as they brought their prize to shore, they 
were called away from it, — " Follow Me, and I will 
make you fishers of men." 

The word was spoken by One who had already 
shown that He was to be obeyed without a question. 
Zebedee and his servants remained in charge of the 
heaps of fish that lay glistening on the grass, and his 
two sons, with the elder pair of brothers, were thence- 
forth constant followers of their Master, who had 
now ceased to dwell at home and work like other 
men, but had begun to pass from one city to another, 
doing good, working miracles of healing, and speaking 
to the crowds who came round Him of their simplest, 
most obvious duties, in words so clear and plain that 
only thinkers could feel that they were of the utmost 
depth and breadth. 

Others, likewise, became His constant followers ; 
but these four always remained knit to Him in a 
closer manner than the rest Simon Peter, the Rock, 
as the eldest of the band, and the most fervent of 
nature, was always the foremost ; but John, full of 
ardent affection, and with the fresh innocence of 
youth, received in fullest measure that tender love 
and human friendship by which the Son of God has 
made us to feel Him to be the Son of Man. 

John, with his brother James, were called, by their 
Lord, Boanerges (Sons of Thunder), as though they 
were to be voices proclaiming Him, like the thunder- 
ings and voices around the Throne in heaven — ^voices 
of grave majesty and deep awe, strong and weighty. 



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36 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE, 

and leaving a sense of solemnity on the soul, even as 
does a thunder-peal. Of James we know little per- 
sonally, but John's great mark was the sweetness and 
constancy of his love, joined, however, to a zeal and 
fire that were ready to become terrible to whatever 
insulted or injured that which he so deeply and reve- 
rently adored. 

Thus the brothers forbade a man to cast out devils 
in the Lord's name, because he had not come to Him 
for authority ; and when the Samaritans denied him 
a passage through a village, they would fain have 
seen Him manifest His glory by a miracle such as 
that by which Elijah consumed the troops of Ahaziah. 
In truth, they constantly looked to see Him reveal 
Himself in splendour to the world ; and when they 
with their tea companions were chosen as His mes- 
sengers. His Apostles, or men sent forth, they felt 
it the proclamation of a King. Yet still the task 
was only wandering from place to place, healing the 
sick, discoursing on hill-sides, or on plains, and even 
in the streets, to the crowds who gathered round Him, 
and, at the recurring festivals, going up to Jerusalem, 
and there teaching in the courts of the Temple, and 
holding more abstruse arguments with the scribes 
and learned men who attempted to silence Him. 
After almost every discourse, what had fallen on the 
careless ears of the multitude was commented on and 
more closely explained to the inner circle of followers, 
who cared to hearken instead of merely hearing ; and 
from these the Twelve were specially chosen, as special 
attendants and ministers to the crowds who collected 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 27 

at each spot, and on whom they were enabled to work 
some miracles of healing in proportion to their own 
strength of faith. Many wonders were either not 
seen or not understood by the heedless crowd. On 
the two occasions when the loaves and fish were mul- 
tiplied, the Twelve were the distributors to the hungry 
throng; and in the two storms upon the lake, it was 
the Twelve who were struggling with wind and wave 
till their Lord made the restless blast and tossing 
water sink into a great calna. In one, they awoke 
Him in their terror ; in the other, they beheld Him 
walking calmly on the surface of the water, and their 
cry of alarm was calmed by His voice, " It is I ; be 
not afraid," 

There were wonders reserved for the special con- 
templation of the three Whose love and faith were 
strongest : Peter, James, and John were alone admitted 
to see the actual raising of the little daughter of 
Jairus, and were ever the closest to their LcM-d. They, 
with all the others, seem to have imagined that all 
their present work was preparation for the great pro- 
clamation of glory, and that, when everything was 
sufficiently prepared, and numbers knew Him to be the 
Christ, He would raise Himself to the throne of David, 
overpowering His enemies at Jerusalem, and subduing 
the cruel house of Herod, and the stern Roman 
power. For this it seemed to them, the Twelve first, 
and afterwards the Seventy, were sent two and two 
throughout the cities and villages to make Him 
known to the inhabitants; and, strong as was the 
hatred shown by the rulers at Jerusalem to all that 



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28 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 

concerned Him, that there would be triumph in the 
end was certain to all His followers, though they had 
no understanding of what kind of triumph it would 
be, and only expected to share the earthly splendour 
of a more magnificent David or Solomon. 

David had wandered homeless and persecuted, and 
they were content to follow their Master, when the 
Sanhedrim, or council of priests and elders at Jeru- 
salem had been enraged at His rebukes of their crimes 
and hypocrisies, and had determined on cutting Him 
off; and when they had persuaded Herod Antipas 
that He was a factious person, so that Galilee was 
no longer safe for the wanderers. The many times 
when the malice of the rulers and the anger of the 
mob had been disappointed, had given the disciples 
trust that His person was inviolable ; and, great as 
the sufferings of the three years and a half of His 
ministry had been, the little band were full of hope 
when the third Passover approached, thinking, pro- 
bably, that the supporters who would come up from 
all parts of the country would overpower, the Jewish 
authorities, Herod, and the Romans, even if there 
were not some great and public manifestations of His 
power and His wrath. 

These favoured Three were the more certified of His 
glory when one night they had gone with Him to 
the heights of a lone mountain, and there, awakening 
from their sleep, they beheld His glory unveiled, His 
countenance glistening, His raiment white as the light, 
and the two holy ones of old, Moses and Elijah, 
talking with Him. Heavy with sleep, and entranced 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE, 29 

with awe as they were, they knew that they had seen 
the glory of God, and though, even in that flood of 
light, they heard words concerning the decease that 
was to be accomplished at Jerusalem, and though He 
told them plainly even the manner of His approach- 
ing death, their hearts would not take in the belief. 
Even when, at the peril of their lives, they had hurried 
to Bethany on the tidings of the death of Lazarus, 
was not that journey crowned by the greatest miracle 
ever yet witnessed, and performed in the sight of- 
men who would not choose but own that it was a 
surpassing wonder ? 

Already the Twelve were looking on themselves as 
princes of returned Israel, to act perhaps like David's 
thirty mighty men, and three mightiest of all, and 
disputes arose which should be the greatest. Salome, 
the mother of James and John, was especially forward 
in her hopes that, both by intimacy and relationship, 
her sons would have the foremost claim, and perhaps 
there was some jealousy of Peter in her request when 
she came to our Lord, entreating that in His kingdom 
her two sons might sit the one on His right hand, 
the other on the left. 

His reply was grave, and full of repression : — " Can 
ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized 
with the baptism that I am baptized with } " 

" We can," said both the fervent young men, seeing 
no doubt further than their mother, awestruck, but 
ready to endure all for their Lord. 

Then came the answer, " Ye shall indeed drink of 
the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I 



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30 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 

am baptized withal shall ye be baptized ; but to sit 
on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to 
give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is 
prepared." 

The brothers must have turned away, struck with 
awe at the rebuke for their presumption ; but the 
other Apostles were much displeased, and their anger 
was only stilled by their Lord, who called them to 
Him, and taught them that in His kingdom humility 
is greatness, and that he who was truly chief would 
make himself last of all and servant of all. 

When from this time forth we mark how John 
seemed to attach himself to Peter, always with him, 
and attending to his slightest beck, we seem to see 
how the reproof was laid to heart. On then the 
company went to Jerusalem, and the first entrance 
confirmed the expectations of the most hopeful. 
Their Master Himself for once ceased from His ordi- 
nary practice of attracting no attention by outward 
demonstration, and, obtaining a young ass, rode 
into the city in the manner practised by the 
mountaineer princes. His forefathers, and which had 
been predicted by more than one prophet as the 
commencement of glad days for Jerusalem; the 
people, flocking in for the feast, and already prepared 
by His miracles, accepted the sign, hailed Him as the 
Son of David, and flung their own robes, and branches 
of trees on the path. The people of Jerusalem, 
recently impressed by the raising of Lazarus, came 
out with the same shouts of rapture, and He refused 
to silence them at the bidding of the angry rulers. 



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THE BELO VED DISCIPLE, 3 » 

Scarcely recking that His eyes were streaming 
with tears, and that His words were bewailing the 
cruel fate that would fall on Jerusalem, the Twelve 
rejoiced in the triumph, and when at night all sat at 
supper in the house of Lazarus, at the neighbouring 
village of Bethany, there was little heed paid to the 
assurance that the precious ointment poured by the 
loving woman on His feet was for His burial. Two 
days of exultation succeeded. For the second time 
He cleared the Temple courts of the sellers of the 
animals needed for offering, and of the changers of 
foreign for Judaic coin, and no one durst dispute the 
authority which He openly exercised as the Son of 
that House. Every one of the many sects of the 
Jews came to Him with some question by which they 
hoped to make Him overturn His own popularity, 
or speak against the law, but each in turn was con- 
founded; and all the ruling classes, who preyed on 
the people with their avarice, and tyrannized and con- 
fused them with petty regulations of no importance, 
were denounced by Him with dread predictions of 
woe. 

All His foes were silenced and confuted when He 
left the Temple. They felt that nothing more was 
left but for Him to take upon Him His power, and 
reign, and in their obduracy only sought to bribe one 
of His followers to betray Him. He, meanwhile, as 
if to check the rising hopes of His followers, told 
them that soon no two of the enormous stones of the 
Temple would be left standing, and then, on the further 
inquir}^ of the Galilean brethren, as they stood on a 



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32 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE, 

hill outside the walls, He described in terrific detail 
the miseries that would come on the guilty city, and 
the signs that would precede the destruction, joining 
therewith predictions not yet accomplished, of a still 
more dreadful vengeance. 

On the Thursday evening, He and His little band 
quietly entered the city again, and betook themselves 
to one of the guest-chambers that the houses at 
Jerusalem usually provided for the concourse who 
came up to the feasts. They were as one household, 
and on that evening they kept that first supper of un- 
leavened bread, which initiated the seven days of the 
feast, for the lambs were not killed till the next day. 

That evening was the beginning of a space of 
awe and mystery. Then it was that the Lord 
appointed the Sacred Feast that was henceforth to 
become the Paschal meal whereof Himself was the 
Lamb. Then as they reclined, in Eastern fashion, 
on couches round the table, with the beloved John 
leaning on his Master's breast, the assurance was 
given that the time of suffering and desertion was 
nigh at hand — nay, that one present there was a 
traitor. Each feared for himself; and it was John 
who, obedient to Peter's sign, asked who it was, and 
was told it was he who should at the same time with 
our Lord dip his bread into the dish of liquid 
common to all. It was plain to the traitor Judas 
that his purpose was known, and he left the room 
to accomplish it before (as he thought) it should be 
baffled. Then followed the deepest, most myste- 
rious, and most heavenly discourse that the other 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 33 

Apostles had ever yet heard, but which seems to 
have fallen on dulled and perplexed understandings, 
though they were one day to unravel its precious 
import They sung a hymn — ^probably the Hallelujah 
Psalms always used at Paschal suppers — from the 
I nth to the 1 1 8th Psalm, and then in the darkness, 
lighted by the Paschal moon, the Lord, taking His 
three favoured Apostles, went out to pray among the 
olives of the garden on the bank of the brook 
Kedron, which flowed between the city and the 
ascent of Mount Olivet. 

Sleep fell on John, James, and Peter, as it had 
done on the night of the Transfiguration, but when 
He awoke them it was not to see His face shining 
with glory, but worn with agony and stained with 
blood from His brow. He warned them to watch 
and pray, and they could even hear His strong cry 
of agony, " Let this cup pass from Me I " Then, it 
may be, the brothers began to know of what kind 
of cup they had pledged themselves to drink, but 
still grief and perplexity weighed so heavily on them 
that they could not keep awake, even though He 
called them again, gently bade them watch lest they 
should enter into temptation, and returned to His 
own unspeakable grief and intensity of prayer, " Not 
My will, but Thine be done." 

On the third wakening there were sounds approach- 
ing, and the quiet garden was filled with soldiers with 
lantern torches, and weapons, led by priests, and 
guided by the traitor Judas. His promised token, 
the perfidious kiss, was given, and yet the captors 

D 



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34 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE, 

paused, struck with terror, till their Victim Himself 
asked, " Whom seek ye ? " and at their reply said, 
" 1 am He." Their minds were so full of terror that 
at His mere word and presence they recoiled in 
sudden fright, and fell to the ground ; and, when He 
commanded them to let His companions go their 
way, they offered no opposition, even though Peter 
actually inflicted a wound in the defence of his 
Master. 

The terror and consternation of all the disciples 
was extreme, and John alone ventured to keep near 
the Victim, who was being dragged away to undergo 
an examination in the high priest's house. 

John had some acquaintance with Annas, the high 
priest ; it is said he had sold his patrimony to him, 
and could therefore not only venture himself into the 
hall of his house, but seeing Peter shivering at the 
door with grief, fear, and the chill of early dawn, 
could fetch him in to the fire which the servants had 
kindled at the lower end of the great hall, where, at 
the upper end, the two high priests were striving to 
find some legal colour for the death that they had 
already resolved to inflict. 

There John beheld the mockery of justice that 
was brought to bear on Him whose innocence was 
His sole offence. And so far from there being any 
such demonstration of power, as perhaps the disciples 
still hoped, the doom became each moment more 
certain. All the other Apostles had fled ; and John 
heard Peter — ^the eldest, the bravest, the most zealous 
and most looked up to of all the Twelve — actually 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 35 

in his despair deny all connexion with Him whom 
he beheld treated as a criminal 

No heart could bear that trial save that which 
was strongest in its love. And though John does not 
mention himself in the next scene of "that guilty 
morning," there can be little question but that when 
the Victim was dragged to the Praetorium, and given 
up by the weak Pilate to content the raging populace, 
there was, when the purple-robed, thorn-crowned, 
bleeding Form was presented to excite compassion 
that the crowd were too enraged to feel, one face 
amid the maddened throng that looked up in an 
anguish of loving indignation, troubled faith, and 
despairing affection ; yet still with ** Behold, I have 
told you before," ringing in his ears. Those faithful 
steps followed along the path of pain that led 
from the Praetorium to Calvary; and when, in the 
darkness that overspread the earth, the eyes that 
he had learnt to look to with unspeakable awe 
and love gazed down on him again from the tree of 
agony, they beheld him standing by the holy Mother 
at the foot of the cross. 

" Woman, behold thy son ! " and to the beloved 
disciple, " Behold thy Mother ! " were the words that 
entrusted to John the most precious chaise ever left 
on this earth, and from that hour the home of John 
was the home of the Blessed Virgin. Still, with 
unflinching constancy, the beloved disciple watched 
the last hours of awe and agony, gathering each 
mournful and solemn event deep into his heart, and 
not parting from that sacred Form even when the 

D 2 

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36 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 

Soul had quitted It, and the worst was over, as It 
hung lifeless on the cross. He saw the soldiers come 
round, by Pilate's order, to complete the work of 
death, and break the legs of the two thieves on the 
other crosses; but, finding the Lord to be already 
dead, merely pierced His side, so that the mysterious 
gush of blood and water took place. Then came 
the two rich men who had begged the body from 
Pilate, and these faithful few took It down and carried 
It to the neighbouring garden, where lay the rock- 
hewn sepulchre. As the sun was setting and the 
Sabbath drawing on, there was no time to do more 
than wind the corpse in linen, together with sweet 
spices, myrrh, and aloes, before they were forced to 
return to their several homes for the Paschal night, 
scarce yet knowing that they themselves were truly 
touched with the literal blood of the true Paschal 
Sacrifice, the blood that was but typified by the red 
strokes that gleamed on every door-post. 

The mournful, silent Sabbath sped its hours, and 
the disciples only knew that their approach to the 
beloved Sepulchre was rendered more difficult by the 
Roman guard who watched the great stone that had 
been sealed up by the priests. It seems, however, 
that John had sought out the broken-hearted Peter 
in his bitter self-reproach; and, while Judas in his 
remorse was destroying his own wretched life, the 
penitent tears of the once self-confident Simon were 
cheered by the tenderness of the one man whose 
brave love had never failed. For John and Peter 
wore together in the early dawn of that First Day of 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. V! 

the week, when, breathless and distressed, the devoted 
Mary Magdalene came running in upon them with the 
piteous cry, "They have taken away the Lord out 
of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have 
laid Him." Uprose the two disciples at once, and 
hastened to the spot, John's more youthful limbs out- 
running his elder companion, for whom, however, 
he waited till he had reached the cave, when both 
entered together, and beheld the linen shroud care- 
fully laid by, and the napkin, that had bound the 
bleeding Head, folded as no rude spoiler of the tomb 
would have paused to do. 

i Then flashed on them the understanding of the 
words they had heard from Himself, and found 
implied in Scripture, but which had hitherto been too 
utterly strange to them to reach their minds, " He 
should rise from the dead." He was then risen ! He 
had left His tomb empty. Then, as John himself 
tells us, they believed, and so believing, they returned 
home, soon to be followed thither first by Mary 
Magdalene, and then by John's own mother, Salome, 
and the sister of the Blessed Virgin, with tidings that 
they had themselves actually seen the Lord, alive and 
risen, and with messages from His own mouth. 

Some of the disciples were slow to accept what 
they heard, but in the course of that wonderful day, 
Peter, too, had been blessed by the sight ; and in the 
afternoon, two other disciples, going to the little 
village of Emmaus, were joined by Him, and talked 
with Him, though they knew Him not till He 
vanished from their sight At nightfall, ten met 



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38 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 



together in their Paschal guest-chamber^ each with 
so^e fresh confirmation of the wondrous news, ** The 
Lord is risen indeed ;" when, behold. He Himself 
stood in the midst, though the door had not been 
unbarred — stood there even as He had stood four 
days ago, save for the wounds in His hands, feet, 
and side. 

" Peace be unto you," He said, and as they shrunk 
together, feeling as though the presence must be that 
of a mere spirit or phantom. He called them close, 
and bade them touch and handle Him, to feel His 
substance, then ate before them of their broiled fish 
and honeycomb. Intense and awful was their joy 
as they received His full commission to win all 
nations to His faith, and as their understandings were 
opened to see that all these sufferings that had so 
sta^ered and confused their faith had been laid down 
long ago, by David first, and then by many a prophet, 
as not only the marks of the true Messiah, but the 
very purpose for which He came into the world at alL 
Then, too. He bade them make known to all nations 
that pardon for the repentant had been won for all 
mankind by His suffering. Thenceforth they were 
the messengers of a pardoning King, declaring His 
forgiveness on the condition of being sensible of the 
need of it, believing in its efficacy, and testifying that 
faith by fulfilling certain terms, the primary one the 
being baptized, or washed in water in the Name 
of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, — ^that 
really cleansing baptism, which the first John had fore- 
told that He who should come after should confer. 



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THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 39 

That day week, to satisfy the one absent and 
doubting Apostle, He appeared to them again in the 
same manner ; and then, the Paschal feast being fully 
over, the disciples returned as He had bidden them 
to their homes in Galilee, uncertain what was to come 
next, or if they should return to their old habits. 

When Simon Peter proposed " to go a fishing," all 
his fisherman friends joined him, but again came the 
long weary night of toil in vain, until morning 
dawned upon the hills, and they made for the land- 
ing-place, where, in the morning twilight, they saw 
One standing, and heard Him say, "Children, have ye 
here any meat ? " and as they answered, " No," He 
bade them cast the net on the right side of the ship. 

Then John knew the beloved voice, and said to 
Peter, " It is the Lord :" and Peter, only pausing to 
gird his garment round him, flung himself into the 
water, and was at his Lord's feet, while the rest were 
dragging the net heavy with the hundred and fifty- 
three great fishes. A fire burnt on the shore, and 
broiled fish and bread were ready for the fishers again 
to " eat and drink with Him after He had risen from 
the dead." When the meal was over He gave His 
earnest charge to Peter, " Feed My sheep," thrice re- 
peated, and then foretold to him the mode of His 
death, at which Peter, anxious to learn what was in 
store for the friend, who he must have felt was more 
worthy than himself, asked, '* Lord, and what shall 
this man do ?" 

The reply repressed curiosity, " If I will that he tarry 
till I come, what is that to thee ? Follow thou Me." 



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40 THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. 

Of any other appearances of the Lord to the dis- 
ciples we know no particulars^ only that once James 
beheld Him> and at another time five hundred, who 
must have comprised nearly all the Galilean believers, 
assembled on a mountain, and were there blessed by 
His presence. By His direction, as it would seem, the 
Apostles went back to Jerusalem, and there, on the 
fortieth day from His resurrection, they met Him 
again on the Mount of Olives, where, near Bethany, 
they beheld Him ascend by His own power into the 
sky, assuredly the most marvellous triumph ever wit- 
nessed by mortal eyes. 



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CHAPTER IV. 

THE I'ARTING OF BRETHREN. 

'*As kk death He hung, 
His mantle soft on thee He flung 
Of filial love, and named thee son ; 
When now that earthl^f tie was done. 
To thy tried faith and spotless years 
Consigned His Virgin Mother's tears." 

Iraac Williams, translation ofAnciatt Latin Hyinn. 

Going back to Jerusalem, the Apostles waited 
according to their Lord's command to "be endued 
with power from on high," and when that power 
came, on the Day of Pentecost, the strength and 
ability inspired into them brought them to the fuller 
perception of their mission, and how to fulfil it 
Jerusalem remained for the present their home. The 
three thousand who had become believers on the Day 
of Pentecost were ministered to by the Apostles, and 
all lived like devout Jews, going to the Temple daily, 
at the stated hour of prayer, for their worship, but, 
instead of the daily sacrifice of the lamb, celebrating 
that holy rite which their Lord had instituted. 

At one of these occasions of worship at the Temple, 
Peter and John together worked the miracle of healing 



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42 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 

on the impotent man at the Beautiful Gate, and as the 
people came about them in wonder, the elder Apostle 
proclaimed the glory of their risen Lord, until they 
were dragged away to the council of the Sanhedrim 
for raising a commotion in the temple. There again 
they boldly maintained their Master's cause, but, 
angry as the rulers were, there was so entire an 
absence of grounds for punishing them, that they 
were released with a warning. The only effect of the 
warning was to cause the assembled disciples to raise 
a hymn of praise to their Saviour and God, that they 
had been counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 
Nor did this attempt at persecution put a stop to the 
numerous conversions of both Hebrew and Greek 
Jews, and a community was formed where all posses- 
sions were shared together, the rich, like Barnabas, 
bringing all their means, and living with the poor 
After the sacred Feast instituted by their Lord had 
been partaken of, a table of love was spread, at which 
all partook of the food supplied from the common 
stock, and the whole Church seems to have lived 
together in a sort of rapt state, expecting their Lord's 
speedy return, and not at all understanding His 
parting commission to them to teach all nations. 

The falsehood of Ananias and Sapphira — which was 
really contempt of the Holy Spirit, the unpardonable 
sin — occasioned their sudden death, and this, together 
with the numerous miracles of healing, roused the 
fury of the priests, who were of the unbelieving or 
Sadducean party. The Apostles were thrown into 
prison, but at night were released by an angel, and 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 43 



were again found preaching in the Temple cloisters. 
Again they were apprehended, again Peter maintained 
their cause ; and the candid-minded Rabbi, Gamaliel, 
was so impressed as to recommend their release, 
"lest haply we be found to fight against God." 

The others of the Sanhedrim, therefore, only 
scourged these innocent men, and let them go free. 
But on the one hand, the young Stephen, a Greek 
Jew, newly chosen as one of the first seven deacons, 
began to perceive that the Gospel was to extend 
far beyond Jerusalem ; and on the other hand, 
Saul, also a Greek Jew, and a pupil of Gamaliel, 
a young man lately come to Jerusalem, viewed 
these innovations with terror, and stirred up a 
fresh persecution. Stephen was the victim in the 
strife, and most of the believers fled from Jeru- 
salem, the Apostles alone standing their ground. 
The dispersion, however, led to the spread of the 
Gospel, and the next time we hear individually of 
John, he accompanied Peter to Samaria, there to 
fill up what had necessarily been left imperfect by 
Philip the deacon, who had been the first to carry 
on the work that had been begun by the Lord 
Himself in His own conversation with the woman at 
Jacob's well. There John for the first time came in 
contact with that form of misbelief which the latter 
part of his life was to be spent in combating. 

Simon, born at Gitton, a village in Samaria, was 
bred up in the wild loose teachings that had pre- 
vailed among the strange people who had mingled 
the true worship with their own superstitions^ and 



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44 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 

he had then gone to study at Alexandria. This city, 
founded by the great Alexander, and the home of 
the most scholarly among those generals of his who 
became kings upon his death, had been from its very 
birth a home of learning, science, and speculation. 
It had a library unrivalled in the ancient world, and 
in which the sacred Scriptures of Israel, freshly trans- 
lated for the purpose, were stored up together with 
the old mystic lore of the Coptic Egyptian, and the 
poetry, history, and philosophy of the Greek, and 
there was a constant round of reasoning and dis- 
puting, in which men fancied they sought after the 
truths but bewildered themselves more and more. 
Many Jews dwelt at Alexandria ; they had haunted 
Egypt ever since the «captivity. Alexander had 
invited them there ; and, when Palestine had been won 
by the Syrians, many more took refuge there from 
the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes. A whole 
quarter of the city belonged to them, and they 
affected much of the habits of thought of the philo- 
sophical Greeks with whom they consorted. Their 
faith in the spiritual, all-pervading essence of the 
Godhead greatly assisted the Greeks to shake them- 
selves free of their faith in the numerous idols of the 
classic world; but, on the other hand, these Greek 
Jews lost much of the strict, earnest, exclusive faith 
of their brethren at Jerusalem, and of their close 
attention to the typical ceremonies of the law of 
Moses, and acquired a good deal of the magic prac- 
tised in Egypt, and of those superstitions that almost 
always enslave the minds of those who fall from the 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 45 

truth, as if it were a judgment that those who will 
not believe what they ought, come to believing what 
they ought not 

Here Simon seems to have picked up and formed 
for himself the notions that became widely spread 
through the East, and were the subtlest foes with 
which the Apostles had to deal. Silence he said is 
the eternal root of all things, whence sprung iEons, 
Beings or Powers, Angels, and Nous (Mind), and 
Epinoia (Intelligence), from which pair sprang all 
earthly things. A woman named Helen, whom he 
had bought in the slave-market at T)nre, he gave out 
to be an incarnation of Epinoia, the wandering im- 
prisoned intelligence, and- he represented himself as a 
great iEon Manifestation, or power of God, come to 
set the spirit free from its struggles against law and 
order, and the bonds of the flesh. With a mixture of 
Greek philosophical language and of perverted verses 
of the Scripture, he obtained much attention, and his 
followers became known as Gnostics — a word identical 
in sense, and almost in sound, with Knowers. He 
added to his fame by wonders, worked either by 
trickery or by the agency of evil spirits, and thus 
acquired the name of Magus, or the Magician. 

The teaching of Philip had so far struck him that 
he offered himself with others for baptism. And when 
Peter and John came, and proceeded to lay their hands 
on the baptized, to impart to them the Holy Spirit, as 
now in confirmation, the signs which were then vouch- 
safed to assist the faith of the converts seemed to his 
low nature such a means of increasing his influence 



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46 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 

that he offered the two Apostles money if they would 
give him the power of conferring such gifts. Peter's 
indignant answer, "Thy money perish with thee, be- 
cause thou hast thought the gift of God could be 
purchased with money," has rendered Simon's name 
so proverbial that all attempts at buying or selling 
the gifts of God left in trust with His Church are 
termed simony. It was, however, rather the doctrine 
than the practice of the unhappy man that effected mis- 
chief in his own day. Though crushed for the moment 
under the stern rebuke of the two Apostles, and entreat- 
ing them to pray for his forgiveness, he soon returned to 
his former pretensions, interwove into his teaching all 
that suited his purpose of the Apostles' own doctrines ; 
and, what was worse, infected some of their disciples, 
so that Knowers or Gnostics often met them in their 
own Churches, and required many a stem admonition 
and warning. It is said that, g^rowing more confident 
in his delusions, Simon tried to fly from the top of 
a high tower, but fell and broke his leg, and that his 
death was caused by his insisting on being buried 
alive, in the expectation that he could raise himself 
from the dead on the third day. But the teaching 
he had spread did not die at once with him. 

However, for the present, the defeat he had sus- 
tained at Samaria was complete, and the Apostles 
returned to Jerusalem, John probably feeling how 
mistaken had been the zeal of old, which would 
have revenged upon the Samaritans their first re- 
jection of the Master, whose name they had so readily 
accepted. 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 47 

In the meantime, the wonderful conversion of Saul 
freed the Church from her only active enemy on 
principle, and a time of peace ensued, during which 
the central knot of believers at Jerusalem had time to 
grow firm, and to learn the full bearings of their new 
faith, while Saul was, in the wilds of Arabia, entering 
into the depths of that which he was to set forth in 
future, and the deacons and others who had fled from 
his persecutions were spreading their doctrine in the 
Jewish synagogues of Antioch and Cyprus. The 
Apostles apparently moved about within the confines 
of Palestine, which was again united into one kingdom 
under the favourite of the Emperor Caligula, Herod 
Agrippa, an exceedingly clever and subtle man, who 
was very vain of his good understanding at once with 
the Romans and Jews. 

John must have been absent on one of these expe- 
ditions when Saul, after his three years' retirement, 
visited Jerusalem, for there was no meeting between 
them. Shortly after came the vision that announced 
to Peter that the time was come when the Gospel 
was to be preached to other than the Jews, and 
this was followed up by such great conversions of 
the Gentiles at Antioch, that believers were no 
longer regarded as a mere sect among the Jews, 
but were known by that glorious name of Chris- 
tians, which still continues our highest honour. 
Indeed, these new Christians at Antioch proved 
themselves so well worthy of the name, that to them 
is owing the first charitable collection on record, 
the sum which they sent by Saul and Barnabas to 



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4S THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 

relieve their brethrea in the famine then prevailing 
at Jerusalem^ 

Eleven years had passed in comparative peace since 
the resurrection of the Lord, and the Church had had 
time to gather strength and become firm in her faith, 
when Herod Ag^rippa, wishing to secure further popu- 
larity among the Jews, began to seize the leaders of 
the Christians, whom they had all this time watched 
with the ferocity of muzzled dogs. The first victim 
was James, the brother of John. Bloody was the 
baptism, short and sharp the draught of the cup, 
that he partook with his Lord, when first of all, save 
the young deacon Stephen, he "drank His cup ot 
woe, triumphant over pain ;." but John, willing as he 
was to die with his brother, still remained untouched, 
though the other of the three most favoured Apostles, 
Peter, was thrown into prison, and kept for execution 
after the Passover. 

We know not whether John were among the many 
who were gathered together in the house of Mary, 
the mother of Mark, praying for the safety of Peter, 
when behold his knock and voice sounded at the 
gate, and when in their joy and wonder they admitted 
him, they heard how he had been set free by an angel 
from heaven. 

Almost immediately after, the sudden and terrible 
death of Herod Agrippa rescued the Church from 
his enmity, and Palestine fell more entirely into the 
hands of the Romans, who as yet saw no difference 
between Jews and Christians, and merely wished to 
keep the peace between both. There was again a 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 49 

quiet time at Jerusalem, during which Paul and 
Barnabas came back to ask the opinion of the 
Apostles as to how far the Gentile converts were 
bound to observe the ceremonial part of the Jewish 
law. The council was held under the presidency of 
the surviving James, to whom the chief seat in the 
Church at Jerusalem had been given. The decision 
was that the Gentiles were in no wise bound to those 
rites of the law of Moses, which had, in fact, been 
partly typical and partly intended to draw so sharp a 
line as to prevent the Jews from becoming insensibly 
corrupted by heathen intercourse. All, therefore, that 
was required was the observance of the eternal moral 
law, and the abstaining from practices in the slaying 
of animals for food which would have been abhorrent 
to a Jew. 

The first twelve years had passed, and the Apostles 
had come to the full comprehension of their com- 
mission to teach all nations that the ransom of the 
world was paid, and that all that remained was to 
accept that redemption. 

The Jewish Church had been like a kernel with a 
seed within ; the first sprout had shot forth to Antioch, 
and now the roots and branches were to spread far 
and wide into a great tree overshadowing the earth. 

After that first council on the treatment of the 
Gentile Christians, it was agreed that Paul and 
Barnabas should devote themselves to the Greeks, 
and John, James, and Peter to the Jews. This we 
know from St. Paul's own words to the Galatians, and 
there was a belief in the Church that all the other 

£ 



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50 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 

eight Apostles set out on their several journeys at 
the same time together, agreeing before they parted 
on the symbol or watchword to be taught to every 
convert, namely, what we call the Apostles' Creed ; 
and fancy has further added that each of the Twelve 
composed one of its twelve clauses or articles. There 
is, however, no real certainty that our Apostles' Creed 
was the same in form and arrangement, as we have 
it now, till a century later, though a symbol the same 
in substance there certainly was. 

Matthew is also thought to have written the record 
of the life of our Lord in Hebrew and in Greek, so 
that the Apostles might have copies of this to leave 
with their converts. The Apostles acted as mis- 
sionaries, going from place to place ; but, wherever 
they found believers, they placed in authority men 
whom they termed elders, after the old Israelite, or 
indeed universally Eastern, term of elder for a man 
in authority. The Greek word was Presbyteros, 
which has been cut down into our word "priest." The 
elders were made to receive the special gift of the 
Holy Ghost by the laying on of the Apostles' hands, 
and thenceforth conducted the Christian worship, and 
celebrated the Supper of the Lord in remembrance 
of Him, and under them were the deacons or ministers 
in whose special charge the poor were placed. 

Most of the eleven who then parted, after fifteen 
years of the closest brotherhood, never met again, 
probably never heard of each other again. Some 
died by popular fury, some were executed, three 
shared their Saviour's cross ; but in a few short years 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 51 

all were together again, tasting the full measure of 
that glory and triumph which went so far beyond the 
impatient dreams of earthly greatness tfiat they had 
feasted on in early days. John was apparently de- 
tained at the holy city by his sacred charge of the 
mother of our Lord, whom he tended with reverent 
care until her death, fifteen years after the Ascension. 

By this time neither Jerusalem nor Galilee were 
places where the calm precepts of the Gospel could 
be listened to with consideration and reverence. The 
Roman yoke was being welded tighter and more 
heavily on the land, and the Jews, having let the true 
Messiah do His work among them without knowing 
Him, were fast becoming crazed with their vain ex- 
pectation of false Christs. All who would listen to 
the truth were already gathered into the fold ; the rest 
raged against it, and were barely restrained by the 
stern Roman power from savage cruelty to those 
Christians who consorted with Gentiles. Tumults 
broke out at Jerusalem, and, at the Passover of 
A.D. 54, twenty thousand perscms are said to have 
been trampled to death. Galilee, once the happy 
home of John, his brother, and his friends, had be- 
come the abode of desperate robbers, who nestled like 
vultures in its crags, and the peaceful Christians were 
no more in number than could well be presided over 
by James, so that John, now about forty years of 
age, might now set forth on his journey. 

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites had been among 
the first to hear their own languages spoken by the 
Apostles on the Day of Pentecost. These words 



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52 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 

mean Israelites residing in those lands, and speaking 
their language instead of that of Palestine ; for great 
numbers of the members of the ten tribes who had 
been placed by the Assyrian kings on the Median 
rivers continued to dwell there, though looking to 
Jerusalem as their home. The Parthians were a 
gallant people, in whom had revived again the best 
of the old spirit of the Persians, and to them the 
Jews were beginning to look as allies in their earnest 
desire of breaking away from the Roman power. 
It was to the Parthians then that John directed his 
steps, towards the banks of the Euphrates, where 
Abram had heard his first call. St Peter and St. 
Thomas likewise preached there, and they succeeded 
in laying the first foundations of a Church which 
flourished mightily till it was nearly extinguished by 
a fresh outbreak of fire-worshipping zeal among the 
Persians. 

John did not, however, there continue, but made his 
way gradually into Asia Minor, and came to Ephesus 
about the year 65. It was at this very time that the 
Emperor Claudius had acquitted Paul after his long 
imprisonment, and, instead of seeing his face no more, 
the Ephesians hailed their beloved teacher with Joy, 
when, after a journey into the further west, he arrived 
among them. On the other hand there were tidings 
from Jerusalem that James " the Just" had been led 
by the furious Jews to the top of a part of the Temple 
overhanging a precipice, and thence, when he refused 
to deny his Master, hurled down, and slain at the 
bottom with fullers' clubs 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 53 



! What other Apostles still survived besides Peter is 
uncertain, but it was plain that it was time to make 
provision for the Church when the first generation of 
her founders should have passed away. There is 
every reason to believe that John and Paul, and per- 
haps Peter, here took counsel for the future with any 
other Apostle who remained, and with that goodly 
band of disciples who had grown up under their care. 
Luke too was there, the learned Greek friend of Paul, 
who seems to have used the time of Paul's long deten- 
tion at Caesarea to collect materials for a record of 
**all that Jesus began to do and to teach." There 
too were the half-Jew Timotheus, and the Greek Titus, 
and the Epliesians, Trophimus and Tychicus, who had 
likewise long been companions of Paul ; and we may 
suppose that from Colossae would come Onesimus, 
once the runaway slave of Philemon, but converted 
by Paul in his prison at Rome, and sent home to " be 
not a servant but a brother beloved," and Archippus, 
almost certainly the son of the good Philemon, and 
accepted for his sake as a Christian teacher, though 
already some slackness on his part had called for an 
exhortation from Paul. 

One was at Ephesus about this time, whose ex- 
ample might show Archippus that those bred in a 
holy home among saints are not free from temptation 
to weakness, yet that they may recover themselves — 
namely John, surnamed Mark, the nephew of Bar- 
nabas. Companion of his uncle and of Paul in one 
journey, he had left theni in the stress of toil and 
danger, and, when Paul refused to take him again. 



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54 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 

Barnabas had so supported him that the Apostles 
had been for a time offended with one another, and 
had parted. Since that time Mark's entire repentance 
had been shown by his conduct, — first with Barnabas 
at Cyprus, and then with Peter (probably) at Rome. 
Under the dictation of Peter, he had written another 
life of Christ, apparently using St Matthew's as a 
sort of guide in the arrangement ; but, as it was chiefly 
for the practical Romans, with more detail as to the 
facts, less discourse, and hardly any reference to the 
elder Scriptures. 

John had his own circle of disciples, among whom 
were Ignatius, whom old Syriac writers declared to 
have been the child whom our Lord set jn the midst 
of his disciples, to show them the humility of soul 
that is true greatness ; the able and highly instructed 
Athenian Quadratus; Polycarp, a very young lad, 
whom a good lady called Calisto had redeemed from 
slavery; Papias, and many others whose names are 
unknown. 

From such men as these it became needful to select 
those who might carry on the gifts of the Apostles to 
future ages, and who might preside over the various 
congregations as chief shepherds in each place. The 
twelve Apostles, with Paul and Barnabas, had been, 
except the two Jameses, wanderers, acting chiefly as 
missionaries, and only revisiting their Churches from 
time to time ; but a resident head was needed by the 
settled Christians of each city, and the universal 
belief of the ancient Church assigned to St. John 
the first settled arrangement of this description. The 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 55 

spiritual gifts of the Apostles were transferred to their 
successors by the laying on of their hands ; and the 
charge of the flock was at the same time committed 
to them, with the most earnest injunctions to preserve 
the true doctrine. They had in their hands, already 
as standards to which to refer, three Gospels, many 
letters of Paul, one of Peter, and one of the newly- 
martyred James ; and regular habits of worship were 
in course of being ordained to take the place ot that 
in the synagogues from which the Christians were 
excluded. The Holy Communion as before con- 
tinued the idea of the daily sacrifice, and the Syna- 
gogue services were imitated by prayers, reading of 
Scripture, singing of "psalms, hymns, and spiritual 
songs," the arrangement and sequence being not 
uniform, but yet similar in all essential points. 

Such rules as these, then, were imposed on the new 
generation who were to succeed the original band of 
chosen witnesses. Simeon, the brother of James, 
who had been martyred at Jerusalem, seems to have 
already been chosen into his place at Jerusalem ; 
Timotheus was to act as resident overlooker or 
Bishop at Ephesus ; Titus was sent to the great 
island of Crete ; Euodias and Ignatius are said to 
have been made, the one the Bishop of the Jewish, 
the other of the Gentile, Christians at Antioch ; 
Archippus is believed to have gone to Laodicea ; 
Quadratus to Philadelphia; but whether all these 
appointments were made at this period must be 
uncertain. Our knowledge is confined to the facts, 
that immediately after this these men occupied these 



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56 THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 

several posts, that the regulation of the episcopacy is 
ascribed to St. John, and that St. Paul visited Ephesus 
at this time and could hardly have failed to hold 
council with St. John. 

Moreover, soon after he had quitted Ephesus, he 
addressed to Timotheus and to Titus each a letter of 
earnest advice and exhortation on the government 
of their Churches, and of all classes of persons within 
their fold, — letters which have ever since been the 
guides of the Christian ministry. It may be observed 
that he puts Timotheus on his guard against* the 
endless genealogies of the Gnostics, by which Simon 
Magus derived everything by regular descent from 
his Nous and Epinoia, and also against *' oppo- 
sitions of science falsely so called," meaning then 
the arguments of so-called knowledge or Gnosticism, 
though the words, being divinely inspired, apply quite 
as well to all learning or science that is set up against 
faith. 

Times of trial were, however, fast coming on the 
Church, Such a great fire broke out at Rome as 
to destroy a large number of the houses; and the 
Emperor Nero, a thoughtless and excitable young 
man, who was in the country at the time, was so 
much struck with the sight of the flames, the rolling 
smoke, and lurid sky, as, while watching it, to sing 
to his lyre the verses of the iEneid that describe the 
burning of Troy. This ill-timed levity made the 
Romans think he had occasioned the conflagration, in 
order to enjoy the spectacle ; and, as he always lived 
m an agony of alarm lest he should lose his popu- 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. $7 

larity, he turned away their anger from himself by 
declaring that the fire was the work of the Christians, 
against whom he was angered because one of the 
partners of his crimes had been converted. 

Thus began the first real persecution. The Christians 
of Rome were seized, and while some were made to 
fight with wild beasts for the amusement of the 
Romans, others, by a refinement of cruelty, were 
made to light up the horrible spectacle, being smeared 
with pitch and oil, tied to stakes, and slowly burnt 
alive during the dark evening when the frightful 
entertainment was offered to the barbarous idlers of 
Rome. Nor was Nero content with those who were 
within the city ready to hand. He sent to gather up 
the absent persons whose names were known as chief 
teachers of the Christians, and among them were the 
two great Apostles Peter and Paul, once so unlike, 
now drawn closely together in their latter days. 

St. Paul seems to have been arrested at Nicopolis 
in Bithynia, just after having written to Titus. His 
faithful Luke and Tychicus held close and fast to 
him, but Trophimus had to be left at Miletus on 
account of sickness, and Demas could not endure 
persecution, and deserted him '* for the love of this 
world." When he came to Rome, and was placed 
before Nero*s tribunal, he was quite alone, save for 
the feeling of his Master's presence, and '* he was 
delivered out of the mouth of the lion," as he wrote 
to Timotheus immediately after, meaning probably 
that the plea of his Roman citizenship had spared 
him from being the prey of beasts in the arena, and 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 



that he was reserved for a more formal trial. In the 
interval he sent Tychicus to Ephesus, apparently 
carrying his last letter to summon Timothy to his 
side once more, and, in case he should not arrive in 
time, to exhort him to constancy and resolution. 
The faithful saying which he quotes is evidently, in 
its original Greek, part of a hymn : — 

** If we be dead with Chiist, we shall also live with Him ; 
If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him ; 
If we deny Him, He will also deny us ; 
If we believe not, yet He remaineth faithful" 

St. Peter, likewise, addressed a last letter to his 
converts, in the full prospect of the death his Lord 
had long before predicted. Linus had, as it would 
seem, been already appointed to the care of the flock 
at Rome, and both saints were ready to be offered, 
ready to receive the crowns laid up for them in heaven. 
The last days of their lives were, according to the 
belief that has ever since lasted at Rome, spent in the 
dim, underground, Mamertime dungeon, a doleful cell 
walled rouad with heavy stones, but which assuredly 
echoed with their songs and hymns, though no earth- 
quake rent the chains of Paul as at Philippi, no angel 
came to set Peter free as at Jerusalem. Their fight 
was fought, their race was done, and the time was 
come when Peter both could and would follow his 
Lord. They were put to death on the same day, 
the 29th of June, 66, the Roman citizen by the execu- 
tioner's sword, the Galilean fisherman by the cross, 
which he esteemed too great an honour for himself, 



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THE PARTING OF BRETHREN, 59 

intreating that in order to "change the cross, yet 
suffer with his Lord," he might be crucified with his 
head downwards. So passed from this life the greatest 
names among the brethren, the great Apostle of the 
Jews and the great Apostle of the Gentiles, men who 
had once differed, but who were held so close and 
fast together by the love of their Lord, that their 
paths became blended close together in the shining 
light of perfect day that shone round them as their 
steps neared the eternal glory that has ever since 
enwrapt them. 

Timothy was thrown into prison by St. Paul's 
enemies, but was released, and the other companions 
of the saints were guarded from the storm. 

Some strangers then dwelling at Rome must have 
grieved, yet rejoiced, at the crowning of these martyrs. 
Even when St. Paul first visited Rome, in the time of 
the Emperor Claudius, the gallant though betrayed 
British chief, Caradoc, or Caractacus, had been brought 
captive to the city, after his nine years' brave defence, 
and with his family had been made to walk behind the 
Emperor's funeral car. Ever since they are believed 
to have lived at Rome ; and moreover, Claudia, 
daughter of the British king of Chichester, was 
(almost certainly) a hostage at Rome. She was 
fair, bright, and clever, and the Spanish poet. Martial, 
wrote verses in her praise, when she had become the 
wife of the Roman senator Pudens, -little thinking 
that his mention of her would chiefly be valued 
because it coincides with that kind message of greet- 
ing to Timothy, which shows that she was one who 



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bo THE PARTING OF BRETHREN. 

ministered to Paul in his prison. And according to 
tradition it was Timotheus, son of Pudens, who 
laboured to teach the Gospel in Britain^ so that the 
senator and his royal lady must, in their love and 
veneration for their friend and fellow-disciple, have 
departed from the old Roman habit of naming their 
sons after their forefathers, and called him after the 
son of the Jewess Eunice. The father of Caractacus 
is said to have returned to Britain, taking with him 
that other disciple of St. Paul, Aristobulus, to teach 
his subjects. 

St. Timothy himself returned toEphesus, but shortly 
after, during a great festival of the goddess, he ven- 
tured into the streets, and was pounced on by the 
mob, like Paul before him, as a contemner of her 
worship. He was torn to pieces by the mob, and thus, 
after this terrible period of trial, only John remained, 
one brave vessel still riding on the waves, not yet in 
haven, but not submerged, and destined yet to put 
forth. a brighter light, not for Ephesus or for Asia only, 
but for us and for the whole world. 



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CHAPTER V. 

THE EVANGELIST. 

"Whether in his lonely course, 

Lonely, not forlorn he stay, 
Or with love's supporting force. 

Cheat the toil and cheer the way, 
Who hath the Father and the Son, 
May be left, but not alone." — KebU, 

That persecution caused by the caprice of Nero, 
does not seem to have been very violent except at 
Rome, and towards the persons known as leaders of 
the Roman Christians. There were edicts then made 
which remained in force, and under which, any person 
refusing to sacrifice to the gods, might be put ^to 
death ; but unless an3^hing happened to provoke the 
governors of the provinces, they were not eager to 
seek out the peaceful subjects who committed no 
other offence, and the gaps made in the Church 
below by martyrdom were filled up, and new Churches 
were founded in more distant places. 

It is believed that the new angel, or messenger of 
God, who was set in the place of Timotheus, was 
Onesimus, the slave of Philemon j and the people of 
that great old city of Aries, in the south of France, 



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62 THE E VANGELIST. • 

which still shows such wonderful Roman remains, 
reckon as their first bishop, Trophimus, the good 
Ephesian, whose sickness at Miletus was perhaps sent 
him by Providence to preserve him, that he might 
bear witness in France to the teachings of St Paul and 
St John, and of the outer glories of the Temple at 
Jerusalem. The very suspicion that he, a Greek, 
had been brought within it, had caused St Paul to 
be nearly torn to pieces, but he was a worshipper in 
the innermost shrine of the Christian Covenant, where 
there was no difference between Jew and Greek, 
barbarian, and Scythian, bond or free. 

The last storm that was to overwhelm Jerusalem 
was fast gathering. The Jews were ripe for revolt, 
and reckless violence on the part of the Roman 
officers drove them on, till they broke into open rebel- 
lion. Then the full severity of the Roman conquerors 
was prepared for them, and Vespasian, the wisest 
general of the army, marched against them, and 
began his work by taking and destroying, one by one, 
the steep hill-forts of Galilee, with terrible struggles, 
where the Jews showed all the ferocity of despair. At 
Jerusalem, fearful portents alarmed some minds and 
embittered others ; a fiery sword was seen waving in 
the air; the heavy Temple-gate swung open of its 
own accord, and a voice cried, " Let us go hence ! " 
and a maniac wandered up and down the streets 
wildly crying, "Woe! woe to Jerusalem." Men's 
hearts were indeed failing them for fear, and for look- 
ing for the things that were coming on the earth, and 
the Christians called to mind that discourse of their 



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THE EVANGELIST. 63 

Lord which bade them take warning by such tokens 
as these. At last Vespasian absolutely advanced, 
and attempted to besiege Jerusalem; but in the 
midst, thick, hurrying messages came from Rome, 
with tidings first that Nero had been murdered, and 
then of the rapid rise and fall of the men who aspired 
to be emperors. The army, and the governor oi 
Syria both felt that Vespasian was the only person 
fit to take the headship of the empire at such a time 
as this, and he was saluted as emperor, and marched 
away to make himself master of Rome. 

But the sign had been given ; Jerusalem had been 
encompassed with armies, and while the more violent 
of the Jews rejoiced, and fancied they had beaten off 
the enemy, the Christians were confident that the 
time was indeed at hand ; and, obeying the warning 
given nearly forty years before, they quitted the city 
in a body, leaving not one man, woman, or child 
behind, and profiting by the fine spring weather — 
for their flight was " not in the winter," — they safely 
gained the city of Pella, in the district of Decapolis, 
beyond Jordan, which had once been their Lord's 
refuge from the spite of the Pharisees and Herod. 

There, with Simeon at their head, they kept their 
Paschal feast, while the miserable Jews were flocking 
to their empty passover, to swell the numbers of 
those whom Titus Flavius Vespasianus, the son of 
the new emperor, was sent back to coop up within 
the city, there to meet their dreadful deaths. When 
those Christians turned back to the Books of Moses, 
and read that the hornet was to be sent among the 



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64 THE EVANGELIST. 

rebellious Israelites for their punishment, the name oi 
the general must have fallen strangely on their ears, 
for it meant no other than a hornet ; and singularly- 
enough, too, nests of wild bees were let loose in the 
mines by the Roman besiegers, to annoy the Jews who 
met the enemy underground, and waged a deadly 
warfare there. 

The horrors and miseries of that siege form no 
needful part of our history. The chief occasion for 
dwelling on it is, that the event explained many of 
the Saviour's prophecies, to St. John and his fellow- 
disciples. Much that seems hitherto to have been 
taken as solely relating to the final vengeance upon 
the whole world was literally accomplished by the woes 
of Jerusalem, and many predictions and injunctions, 
both in the older Scriptures and in our Lord's dis- 
courses, which had hitherto been almost passed over, 
were felt to apply to a lengthened period of the 
Christian dispensation, and the disciples were forced 
into feeling, what St. Paul had again and again assured 
them, that their Jerusalem was not the earthly city, 
but the Church universal in heaven and in earth. 

To the Christians of Asia this seems to have been 
a quiet time, Vespasian was a just man, with a strong 
hand, who secured quiet to the peaceful and orderly ; 
there was no attempt at persecution, and as the 
Jews were no longer able to exert their malignity, 
times of peace began. 

Unfortunately, times of quiet are apt to be also 
times of error. When those who openly professed 
their belief were in danger of suffering for that pro- 



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THE EVANGELIST. 65 

fession, they were quite sure in their own minds before 
they made the avowal that involved them in peril ; or 
if they had spoken hastily, then like Demas in time of 
persecution, they fell away, for no one who did not 
believe with his whole heart that Christ had died for 
him, and that heaven lay before him, could die for that 
faith. And therefore those who so died bear the name 
of witnesses — martyreSy in Greek — as having given the 
fullest witness man can give to the sincerity of their 
belief. 

In quiet times, however, many persons less firm and 
decided would naturally join themselves to the Church, 
and besides there were some now grown up who had, 
like ourselves, taken their Christianity from their 
parents; and though some were all the better and 
purer Christians for having never known the vices of 
the heathens, yet some — not having thought and 
struggled out the matter for themselves — held their 
belief in a weak, tame, lukewarm way, and of these it 
may be feared that Archippus, supposed to be son 
of the good Philemon, and angel of the Church of 
Laodicea, was one. There were others who tried to 
accommodate Christianity and old philosophy; not by 
bringing the philosophy that had been feeling after 
God like a man groping in the dark, into the full light 
of day, but by darkening Christianity into the obscurity 
of philosophy, and shading down the truths that 
were above human reason. It was providential for us 
that such offences should have come in these early 
days, since they elicited the inspired replies that have 
taught us ever since how to meet error. 

F 



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66 THE EVANGELIST, 

The Gnostics were, as we have already seen, the 
first of these false philosophers, and throwing aside 
some of the magical pretensions of Simon Magus, they 
reasoned about their iEons or beings, and Logoi, words 
or manifestations, and would fain have made out that 
the Lord jESUS was one of these. Among these were 
certain of the residents at Ephesus, who called them- 
selves Nicolaitanes — some say after Nicolas, one of the 
seven original deacons, but Nicolas was such a common 
Greek name that there is no reason to lay such heavy 
blame of apostasy on the prosel5rte of Antioch, as 
would be involved in believing him the founder of 
these Nicolaitanes, whom the angel of Pergamos was 
not firm enough in reproving. 

Those half-converted Jews who had so perplexed 
the Church by their Judaizing practices in St. Paul's 
time as to call forth his Epistles to the Galatians and 
Hebrews, as well as great part of that to the Romans, 
had now shaken off all allegiance to St. Paul, whom 
they chose to declare not even a Jew. They would own 
no Apostles but St. Peter and St. James, and the others 
of the circumcision, and their doctrine they greatly 
perverted, declaring that there was no inherent Divinity 
in Him whom St. Peter had confessed as the Christ, 
the Son of the living God. They were called Ebionites 
— probably from Ebion, a word meaning poor. 

Worst of all was Cerinthus, a man who taught that 
the blessed jESUS was bom a mere man, with an 
earthly father, but that on His Baptism a heavenly 
aeon descended from above and dwelt within Him 
during His ministry. This blasphemy, ungratefully 



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THE EVANGELIST. 67 

denying the Lord jESUS who bought us, was exceed- 
ingly grievous and terrible to the loving heart of 
the aged apostle John. He was one day in one of 
the bath-houses of the city of Ephesus, the great 
marble halls built at the public expense to afford 
to every one the plentiful refreshment of hot and 
cold bathing, so needful to health and comfort in 
those warm countries. Hearing that Cerinthus was 
in the same building, he started up and hurried out 
without waiting to assume his full dress, saying to 
his followers, of whom Polycarp seems to have been 
one, that it would be no marvel if the bath should 
fall on the head of such an one as this enemy of truth. 

Diotrephes, one of the elders, or else perhaps bishop, 
of one of the churches around Ephesus, was so far 
infected with the general insubordination as actually 
to refuse and drive away the messengers sent from the 
Apostle himself; so that on sending them again John 
wrote to Gains, or Caius, a faithful householder in the 
same city, to secure them a refuge in his house, and 
support in their protestations against error. He also 
wrote to an elect lady a gentle, affectionate letter, 
warning her and her children against being led away 
by the deceivers, and assuring her that the only safe 
test of a teacher was his acknowledging the Godhead 
and Manhood of the Lord jESUS Christ. 

In the disputes that arose, it became felt that the 
three Gospels already existing, dwelt more on the 
outward doings of our blessed Lord than on His 
hidden Divinity, and the bishops of Asia Minor, who 
had often heard from St. John's own lips of those more 

F 2 



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68 THE EVANGELIST, 

deep and private words that he had heard, and tokens 
of present Godhead that he had seen, besought him to 
record them in a fourth Gospel, that might fill up what 
was wanting to the rest, and set forth the Lord jESUS 
in His divine glory. 

He complied, setting forth first, as it appears, what 
we number as his first Epistle, and which used to be 
marked as the Epistle to the Parthians. We may 
fairly suppose that, written as it was for the Church at 
large, he may have sent a copy with a special address 
of remembrance to his original converts in Parthia, 
the first-fruits of his missionary labours. He begins 
the Epistle by saying he is about to set forth that 
which he and his companions had seen, heard, and 
handled of the Word of Life, when made manifest in 
the person of Christ, and this opening would hardly 
apply to the Epistle, though it fully does so to the 
Gospel. The Epistle seems, in fact, the preface to 
the Gospel, teaching the spirit in which it is to be read, 
and deducing from it the great twin lessons of Faith 
and Love, neither of which can stand without the other, 
and which " his little children " as he delights to call 
his disciples, must gather from the depths and heights 
to which he leads them. 

When Matthew, Mark, and Luke had written, they 
were still under the influence of that reserve which 
forbade holy things to be openly disclosed to those 
who would not enter into them. So they had given 
the visible life, the miracles witnessed by everybody, 
the discourses spoken to beginners ; but John, writing 
for his children whom he had trained in fear and love 



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THE EVANGELIST. 69 

— for Ignatius, for Polycarp, Quadratus, Onesimus, 
Trophimus, Papias, John the elder, his own namesake, 
and the Elect Lady with her children walking in the 
truth — set down the words that he had pondered in his 
inmost heart for half a life-time, and which the Holy 
Sphit brought back fresh to him, words heard as he 
lay on that Human Bosom, whose glorious Godhead 
he was unmistakeably to proclaim. 

Not like Matthew would he begin by showing that 
Jesus was the kingly Son of David, not like Luke by 
proving Him the Human Son of David, but his solemn 
voice crushes all the blasphemy about aeons and logos 
by the great words, " In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, 
All things were made by Him, and without Him was 
not anything made that was made.*' 

It has been said of the Scriptures that their waters 
are such that in them a lamb may wade, or an elephant 
may swim. No where do we feel this so strongly as in 
St. John's Gospel. The language is so simple that 
the little children, whom he loved so well, have almost 
always beg^n with it as their first book of Greek. 
And no Gospel furnishes more plain, sweet, loving 
sayings that are ever on our hearts for cheering and 
for hope ; and yet there is none of such exceeding 
depth and difficulty. What had been already fully 
established by the testimony of the previous writers, 
he, for the most part, did not repeat, but told what- 
ever had been left untold by them, dwelling on the 
events that had chiefly served to build up his own 
faith in the Godhead of his Lord and Master. 



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70 2^HE EVANGELIST, 

The other Evangelists had given the simple Galilean 
discourses ; but he says little about Galilee, and rather 
describes the teachings in the Temple courts, and the 
arguments with the Scribes. The others tell of the 
institution of the two Sacraments ; he gives the dis- 
courses upon their spiritual signification — the one as 
birth into spiritual life, the other as the food sustaining 
it. He scarcely touches on the triumphal entry into 
Jerusalem, but he had shown the raising of Lazarus, 
which had filled the shouting multitude with wonder, 
and the chief priests with malice. Passing over the 
days of argument and victory in the Temple, he takes 
us into the solemn privacy of the upper chamber, and 
recounts the parting lessons of the Saviour, repeating 
to us that most tender and awful prayer by which 
our great Intercessor has commended every one of us 
to His Father. 

His Resurrection chapters are the fullest and most 
glorious of all, dwelling on repeated appearances in 
full and bright detail ; and throughout making it plain 
that the Living God shone forth on faithful ^yts 
through the veil of Manhood, though at the end — 
feeling how words failed him, and how events crowded 
on his memory — ^he tells us that were all our Lord's 
doings and sayings upon earth recorded, "the world 
itself could not contain the books that should be 
written." 



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CHAPTER VL 

' THB BXILS OF PATMOS. 

** Through Rome's infuriate city, 
From Csesar's judgment chair. 
They drag Chrises loved disciple. 
The Saint with silver hair. 

** To desert islands banished, 
With Gk>d the exile dwells. 
And sees the future glory 
His mystic writing tells." 

Ancteni Latin Hymn, 

St. John ended his Gospel with the true explanation 
of our Lord's words, " What is that to thee, follow 
thou me:" but his pupils still fancied that he was 
to live till the second advent, and this must have 
served to console the Ephesian Christians when their 
Apostle was summoned to answer for himself before 
the Emperor at Rome. 

That Emperor was no longer the just Vespasian, 
nor the gentle Titus, but the gloomy Domitian — a 
suspicious, wrathful, and bitter man, who wanted to 
bring back the old habits of the proud days of Rome, 
and imagined that the disasters that threatened his 
country arose from lack of worship to the gods. More- 



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73 THE EXILE OF P ATM OS. 

over, the homeless Jews were showing themselves 
restless and turbulent, and kept him in much alarm, 
and a sect of the Jews who were said to acknowledge 
a living prince of the house of David, the old royal 
house, seemed to him specially dangerous. 

Was not the frenzy creeping into his own house ? 
Flavius Clemens, his first cousin, husband to his niece, 
Domitilla, whose two sons were being brought up as 
heirs to the throne, and the Consul, Acilius Glabrio, a 
brave active man, once so ardent for fame as actually 
to have gone voluntarily to fight with the wild beasts 
in the great new amphitheatre, the Colosseum, were 
accused to him of being " tainted with atheism, and of 
Judaizing." 

Atheism meant, in the heathen world, the refusing 
to take part in idol worship, or pour libations to the 
gods. It was thought that such an one would over- 
throw the State, and was hateful to gods and men ; 
and when Acilius, Clemens, and Domitilla refused to 
deny the charge, their fate was certain. Acilius was 
told he might die by his favourite sport, and was ex- 
posed to the beasts in the arena. Strong, active, and 
practised, he overcame the animals ; but this did not 
save his life, he was sent into exile, and there put to 
death. Clemens was sentenced and killed at once, 
Domitilla was banished to an island ; and, as no more 
is known of their sons, they probably were cut off with 
their parents. Many other nobles are said to have 
been then banished, and Domitian sought out dili- 
gently — as Herod had done before him — for this King 
of the line of David. 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 73 

That old man at Ephesus, who was even said to 
have almost ruined the worship of the great goddess, 
was ordered to Rome, for was not he averred to be of 
this royal line ? And, moreover, according to a beau- 
tiful tradition, here were two young men dragged 
forward, who could have shown their father's name 
in the great census of Augustus, as a son of David 
at Bethlehem, and had not their father been one of 
those twelve who had chiefly preached that strange 
new error ? 

The two men stood before the Emperor. True, 
they said, they were sons of Judas, son of Cleopas ; 
their father and two of their uncles had been of the 
twelve, they had been cousins, called brethren, of 
their Lord ; they were, like Him, of the old lineage of 
David, but, for their own part, they sought no earthly 
thrones for themselves or any one else ; they were 
hard-working men — and in witness thereof they spread 
out their hands, horny with the use of the spade — 
and they owned nothing but a few acres of land. 

"But what is this kingdom?" still asked the 
Emperor. 

" It is a kingdom," said the sons of St. Jude, ** a 
kingdom far away. We look not f(»r it till earth be at 
an end, and our King cometh to make new heavens 
and a new earth." 

Domitian feared them no longer, but let them 
depart to their homes, and even became convinced 
that the Christians meant him no harm. There was 
quiet, and the Ephesians learnt before long that their 
Apostle was in one of the little isles that studded 



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74 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 

their beauteous sea — ^whence he had been forbidden 
to return to them. 

Wondrous tales of his charmed life were whispered. 
It was said that he had been dragged to the Lateran 
Gate at Rome, and plunged into a cauldron of boiling 
oil, but that it had been unable to hurt him ; and 
another story was afloat that a cup of poison was 
given him without doing him injury — ^some stories 
even averring that the venom had come forth in the 
shape of a serpent, at his touch. But there is no 
evidence that his real, trustworthy pupils, Polycarp, 
Ignatius, Fapias, or John the Presbyter, ever related 
these adventures, though the boiling oil was believed 
in not many centuries later. The cup with the dragon 
may have first been drawn beside St. John, in allusion 
to the brazen serpent of Moses, and the sacramental 
participation in the Sacrifice of the Cross, and thus 
the latter tale may have arisen; but, be it always 
remembered, that neither wonder was impossible. It 
may have been the will of God to save the holy Apostle 
by wonders resembling those that marked the life of 
Daniel the Prophet, "the man greatly beloved," to 
whom he bore most analogy ; and these marvels may 
have stilled the persecution for a time, as well as have 
preserved St. John, a martyr in will though not in 
deed, to be a living witness throughout this trying 
period of the Church, when the first fervour was 
passing away, and a new generation rising up. 

Ere long the Asiatic Churches had certain intelli- 
gence of their holy Apostle, from his own pen, in the 
most awful and wonderful letter that ever was framed 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 75 

by mortal man. He wrote from the isle of Patmos, 
a small and exceedingly rugged, rocky islet, with 
barely soil enough to bear a few olives and cypresses, 
and chiefly fitted for the wild goats on the rocks, A 
village on the east side would contain a few inha- 
bitants, and to the south lay a high steep hill, with 
a cave in the midst Hence the Apostle might stand 
and gaze far and wide over the blue waters, with 
their purple isles of rock rising among them, and at 
the outline of the coast of Asi^, and the rising hills 
against tlie horizon that shut in the cities that were 
his own special chaige. Seven above all were dear 
to him — ^founded some by himself, some by St Paul, 
with angels or bishops, chiefly of his own training ; 
and their number, seven, chiming in with many of the 
notes of the Old Law, which he had learnt to regard 
as the bud of the blossom in which he was rejoicing. 
Seven had always been regarded as a holy symbo- 
lical number. There were seven days in the divinely- 
appointed week, seven of each clean animal entered 
the ark of Noah, there were seven branches to the 
golden candlesticks in the Tabernacle, and the seventh 
day, the seventh week, the seventh month, the seventh 
year, and the seven times seventh year had all been 
consecrated, and thus it has come to be believed that 
the number seven expressed the completeness of what 
was good and holy, and that in accepting and con- 
secrating seven, all the rest were by that number 
offered and accepted. Thus, as the hallowed seventh 
day consecrated all the days in the week, and the 
seventh week all the weeks in the year, so the Seven 



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76 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 

Churches, immediately under St. John's eye, served, 
as it were, as an emblem to him of all the other 
Churches on the earth — that of Pella where the fugi- 
tives of Jerusalem were gathered ; that of Parthia to 
which he had written; the first Gentile Church at 
Antioch, governed by his pupil Ignatius; that of 
Greece where dwelt so many dear to him ; that of 
Rome which he had visited in such anxious times ; 
that of Gaul where ruled the faithful Trophimus ; that 
of Britain where the Druid superstitions were being 
fought with by Aristobulus. All these, and many 
more, were symbolized, and as it were included in 
his thoughts and intercessions as he gazed on the 
bays and vales where nestled his own Seven. 

And all these, and many more — nay, every Church of 
every place, and at all times, throughout the world — are 
addressed in the wonderful letter written from Patmos 
to the Seven Churches of Asia and their angels. 

It was not of his own accord that St. John wrote 
these messages. Wise and holy as he was, they were 
the words of a greater than he. He has told us how, 
on the Lord's Day — that day which he had kept holy 
ever since that blessed morning, sixty years before, 
when he had found the sepulchre empty — ^he heard 
a great voice as of a trumpet talking with him. The 
Patmos islanders say that he was in the cave, which 
they call by his name, when this marvel happened 
It might be that the exile, after spending himself in 
the toil of pouring the truth on their ears, had, like 
his Master of old, climbed the mountain apart to pray 
and give himself up to communion with his Lord. All 



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THE EXILE OF P ATM OS. 77 

we know is, that he " was in the Spirit on the Lord's 
Day," when at the voice he turned and saw — saw his 
Lord and Master — Him on whose bosom he had lain, 
whose hands and feet bore the wounds, whom he had 
watched rising into heaven — standing even as he had 
seen Him stand in morning dawn on the shore of the 
blue lake, still perfectly to be recognised by loving 
eyes, but in the majesty of His glory, robed from head 
to feet in the long garment of king or priest, white 
and dazzling, as at the Holy Mount of Transfiguration, 
and girt about with a golden girdle. His countenance 
was as the sun in his strength. His voice as the sound 
of many waters ; yet, in some inexplicable manner, the 
face, the voice, were verily the beloved countenance 
and tones of jESUS of Nazareth, the same that had 
become known and loved by John on the banks of 
Jordan, and though the flesh quailed, and he fell on 
his face in terror, it was that voice which said, '* Fear 
not," that wounded hand that set him on his feet ; the 
bodily touch thrilled through him as when in the upper 
chamber he had been bidden to handle and feel the 
flesh and bones belonging to no mere spirit. 

"Perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath 
torment." So St John had already written ; and he, 
whose love came nearer to perfection than that of any 
other man on earth, felt the comfort of his own dear 
Master's presence, and feared not to look, and to listen 
to the precious words that came from His mouth. 

The Holy One' was In the midst of seven golden 
candlesticks, or rather lamp-stands. The one seven- 
branched golden candlestick with seven lamps had 



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78 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS, 

been a special treasure of the Jews. Fashioned by 
Moses, after the pattern shown him in the Holy Mount 
of Sinai, it had been carried to Babylon, but there, 
as it seems, when brought forth to light Belshazzar's 
godless banquet, over against it had come forth the 
wondrous handwriting — ^the king's doom upon the 
wall. It had, even in the sack of Babylon, been pre- 
served, and was brought back safely to Jerusalem to 
be restored to the holy place. There, on festal days, 
St. John had seen it afar off from the court where he 
worshipped, with the high-priest Annas or Caiaphas 
standing beside it ; he had seen its likeness carved on 
the wall of the synagogue of Cana in Galilee, and 
probably on many more. He, like every other faithful 
Jewish Christian, had mourned when Titus and his 
soldiers had borne it away from the burning Temple, 
and set it as their choicest trophy in the temple of 
Peace. Nay, he might himself have seen it there, and 
felt thankful that at least it was in no shrine of one of 
the unholy, demon-like deities worshipped with foul 
demoralising rites, but in a fane raised to one of the 
attributes of the Prince of Peace who might be there 
ignorantly worshipped. He, on his way to trial and 
danger, might have looked up at the very same sculp- 
ture that travellers gaze at now — of that beloved and 
lost candlestick carved upon the splendid arch over 
the triumphal road, along which it had been borne 
to swell the pride of Titus and his fierce-counte- 
nanced nation on their return to Rome. But what 
truly mattered it that the temple candlestick was yet 
to be taken away by plunderers to Africa, reconquered 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 79 

and brought to Constantinople, sent back again to 
Rome as a dangerous possession, and finally sunk 
deep beneath the yellow waters of the Tiber, where 
it still lies buried in the sands and mud, safe from 
further desecration ? 

What mattered the fate of the old symbolical can- 
dlestick, when here before his eyes John beheld the 
true one, the very pattern Moses had seen in the 
Mount, the very lamps that Zechariah had beheld fed 
by olive-trees that, he was told, were the two anointed 
ones. More than Moses, more than Zechariah did he 
see ; the Lightbearing Candlestick was not one, with 
seven branches, but seven Lamps : for now the light 
of one day had become as the light of seven days, 
and the one people who bore the light of God at 
Jerusalem were now sevenfold multiplied into many 
peoples, nations, and languages. And in the midst no 
false, murderous priest like Caiaphas was "walking — 
no, nor even the beloved Simon in his long garment, 
nor good Jeshua the restorer, nor Zadok the first 
temple priest — no, nor Aaron himself. 

It was the real Jeshua, " the Priest upon the throne 
for ever," the Priest for ever after the order of Mel- 
chisedec ; his jESUS, his Saviour, his God, who walked 
in the midst of those golden lamps, and held in His 
hand the Seven Stars, that mysterious cluster of which 
the Almighty had long ago said to Job, *' Canst thou 
bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades } " and which 
we now know to have among them that central star 
around which all suns and stars revolve. 

The holy voice told St. John that those Seven Stars 



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So THE EXILE OF PATMOS. 

were the angels of the Seven Churches, and that the 
Seven Candlesticks were the Seven Churches — a 
mystery indeed that we can only thus far understand, 
that in the number seven is collected all that are 
dedicated to God upon earth, and that the lamps or 
candlesticks represent Churches because it is the 
Church that displays the light of God to man, as the 
lamp shows light; also that the stars being in the 
hand of Christ show that He bears within His hand, 
and acts by, the faithful rulers of His Churches. 

He Himself mentioned by name the Churches of 
the seven cities most immediately connected with 
St. John, commanding His Apostle to write His 
message to each ; and there can be no doubt that, just 
as the special joys and woes of David and Asaph were 
made to suggest promises and prayers fitted for all 
generations since, so the particular needs of the Seven 
Churches of Asia were providentially brought about, 
so that the messages of warning and admonition 
might serve for every branch of the Universal Church 
throughout the world. Indeed, at every pause the 
great Speaker so proclaims His message : " He that 
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the 
Churches." Let us then try to have ears to hear, what 
is peculiarly our own message, given in Christian times, 
and in our own Europe, amid the isles of the Gentiles, 
and let us see how those first Seven Churches and 
their angels received the message, and acted upon it, 
and what is known of the pupils of St John who first 
heard that wondrous letter in trembling awe and joy. 

There have been many questionings what was 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 8i 

meant by the angels of the Churches. It is plain that 
as some are blamed, they cannot mean those hea- 
venly messengers of God whom we are used to call 
angels, nor would St John have had to write to 
them. They must therefore be human beings, the 
messengers of God, to whom was deputed the rule 
over the churches, the messenger shepherds sent forth 
by the Chief Shepherd, the overseers of the shepherds 
of the flock. And thus all ancient commentators 
understand the angel of each Church to mean its 
bishop, to whom Christ addresses exhortation, blame, 
or praise on behalf of himself and his own Church. 

Ephesus we know best of all these seven, the home 
of the Apostle himself as it was, and guided by the 
elders who had wept and prayed round St. Paul on 
the shore of Miletus. The beloved Timothy first, 
and his successor after him (probably Onesimus), had 
been faithful overseeing shepherds, bravely guarding 
their flock from the grievous wolves, against whom 
St. Paul had warned them ; and applying the test 
St. John had given them, by which to try those who 
taught among them, namely, whether they confessed 
the Godhead and Manhood of the Lord jESUS 
Christ; and thus the sensual and reprobate Nico- 
laitanes were kept aloof and put to silence. But, 
though they were so sound in faith. He who trieth 
the heart " had somewhat against " the angel of 
Ephesus and his Church, for there had been a cooling 
down of that devout love and zeal that had prevailed 
there when the converts burnt their curious books, 
sorrowed around St Paul, and saw the martyrdom of 

G 



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82 THE EXILE OF PATMOS. 

Timothy. To the present generation Christianity 
was a matter of course, not a great freshly- won 
victory, and slackness was coming over them, which 
their Lord mercifully rebuked, warning them, that 
unless they returned to what they once had been. He 
might have to visit them, and remove their Candle- 
stick — that is to make their Church cease to be one 
of His great lightbearers, setting forth the truth of 
His Gospel before men. But to those who should 
win the victory by love as well as by faith, the 
Saviour holds out the promise of being restored to 
the enjoyment of the Tree of Life, of which our first 
parents were deprived for their disobedience. 

Smyrna, the city of Myrrh, would be dear to St. 
John for the sake of its bishop, his own pupil Poly- 
carp, who, young as he was, seems to have been 
already there as angel. It stood in a lovely valley, 
so warm that the vines bore fruit twice a year, and 
figs, spices, and all that was precious abounded there, 
and it was also near enough to the sea to have an 
excellent port where traffic was briskly carried on. 
It was full of temples — one to Rhea, the mother of 
the gods ; another to Dionysus, the god of wine, whose 
riotous orgies were observed at regular seasons, com- 
memorating the Eastern story that he had been slain, 
cut to pieces, and placed in a cauldron, whence he was 
brought to life by the gpreat mother, Rhea. This was, 
of course, a fable of the fruits apparently consumed, 
by the heat of the sun, reviving again under the fos- 
tering care of Mother Earth; but when all these powers 
of nature were personified and turned into idols, the 



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THE EXILE OF PATMOS, ^^ 

stories were monstrous and the worship horrible, and, 
their commemoration called into play all the worst 
passions of humanity. Moreover, the Smymiotes had 
a more absurd temple still, for they had earnestly 
striven for the privilege of raising one to the Emperor 
Tiberius in his own lifetime, though if they had known 
how absurd the grim, satirical Caesar felt their adu- 
lation to be, they would have grudged their pains. 

In such a rich, licentious place, given to such foul 
idolatry, Christianity had a hard battle, and dread of 
the evils round kept the believers the more spotless 
in life. The unbelieving Jews, doubly spiteful since 
their city was gone, never failed to point the Christians 
out to the scorn and cruelty of the heathen, and if it be 
true that Polycarp, the bishop, had been once a slave, 
there would have been endless occasion of taunting 
him and his followers with their poverty and vileness. 

But He who " seeth not as man seeth," was 
" countihg and measuring up their tears." He, the 
First and Last, Whose death and life eternal were 
shadowed in the decay and restoration of nature, 
so foully travestied in the idol story — He told the 
suffering Church that in His sight her poverty was 
riches, and that even though she should suffer still 
worse afflictions, they would be but trials — purifying 
and tending to glory ; and to the angel himself, with a 
sudden change from plural to singular, the promise 
was given, *' Be thou faithful unto death, and I will 
give thee a crown of life." 

A crown was wont to be given at the year's end to 
the priest of the wine god, but the angel of Smyrna's 

G 2 



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84 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 

service was to be until his death, and at the end was 
reserved for him such a crown as St. Paul had looked 
for on the other side of the Roman's sword blade. 

Very deep did the words sink into many a heart 
besides that of Polycarp, through many an age of 
the world They formed the text of the Coronation 
Sermon preached in Westminster Abbey on the 
2d of February, 1626, when, in white and jewelled 
robes, a young king sat and listened, little foreboding 
that the promise would return upon him on a black- 
hung scaffold, where axe and block awaited his grey, 
discrowned head. 

The last sentence, the promise to him that over- 
cometh, is the revocation of Adam's sentence, " Ye 
^all surely die," for it assures us that the conqueror 
shall not be hurt of the second death, but with him 
who giveth the victory, shall be alive for evermore. 

Further inland lay the tall conical hill that gave 
its name to Pergamos, the burg, or fortified mountain 
from which it was said' the birth of the great 
god Zeus had been beheld. Beneath was a perfect 
assemblage of temples, standing in a beautiful grove 
of the choicest aad loveliest trees, that shaded the 
shrines and statues of a whole assemblage of deities, 
but the chief and favourite god of all was Asclepios, 
the god of healing. He was said to be the son of 
the sun-god, Apollo, and to have learnt his art from 
a serpent which brought its dead companion to life 
again with a certain herb. This story was told to 
account for his figure being always represented with 
a serpent twined round his staff — or even as a large 



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THE EXILE OF PATMOS. 85 

serpent alone ; but it is almost certain that this was 
an invention to explain and soften to European minds 
an old Eastern worship of the serpent itself, as the 
power of evil, and that the honour paid to the dragon 
of Asclepios was no better than devil worship. Sick 
persons resorting to the god observed certain rites, 
and then slept in the temple, expecting the remedy- 
to be revealed to them ; but the Greeks had grown 
too shrewd to trust to dreams, and kept a college of 
medicine attached to the temple, though, as Asclepios 
had all the honour of what was done by human skill, 
he was known as the Sotdr, or saviour god So learned 
and full of the love of literature were the Pergamenes, 
that the best sort of sheepskins prepared for writing 
were known ^s charta pergamena, a word perpetuated 
in our parchment. 

Thus the Christians of Pergamos had to resist 
dangers more subtle than the false sorceries of Ephesus, 
or the open scorn and malignity of Smyrna. They 
dwelt in the very seat of Satan, the serpent idol, the 
mock saviour, and under his open enmity they had not 
been faint-hearted, but had boldly confessed the true 
Saviour's name. One faithful martyr, or witness, is 
even mentioned by the great Shepherd who knoweth 
His sheep by name, "even Antipas;" but though 
Christ knew and gave him praise, no record has been 
preserved of him, only a tradition that he had been 
the last bishop, and in this very persecution of 
Domitian had been thrust into the inside of a hollow 
bronze bull, and there baked to death by a fire be- 
neath, — a horrid torture invented long before in 



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86 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 

Sicily. But as these refinements of cruelty were not 
generally practised on the Christians till the later 
persecutions, it is likely that this story is a late in- 
vention, and that Antipas — the martyr of St John's 
daughter Church of Pergamos — ^was one of the 
many whose history earth knows not, though it is 
safe upon the heart of the great High Priest in 
heaven. 

Open attacks, then, the Pergamene Christians 
bravely defied, but it was more difficult to hold out 
against the men of science and learning, who knew as 
well as they did that Asclepios and his cures were 
all a cheat and sham ; and who only maintained their 
heathenism because the state and all society would 
be convulsed if the system were overthrown. Let 
it be granted that the gods were only fancies to 
amuse the vulgar, and nothing in themselves, and 
then there could be no harm in sporting in their 
pageants, or eating of their sacrifices, or following the 
little observances that had become a part of daily 
life. The Gnostic Nicolaitanes told the same story, 
and thus science, falsely so called, was doing exactly 
the same work as Balaam had done thousands of 
years before, when he led the Israelites "to join 
themselves to Baal Peor, and eat the offerings of the 
dead : " and the angel of Pergamos was not clear- 
sighted like his brother of Ephesus, but was dealing 
too leniently with those who were leading his flock 
back blindfold to the evils they had left 

As the sword of Phinehas the priest had put away 
that sin from Israel, so the sharp piercing two-edged 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 87 

sword of the Word of God. proceeding from the 
mouth of the great High Priest, was held up threaten- 
ingly to warn the Pergamenes ; and again, to those 
who overcame the temptation was promised that which 
the priesthood of Israel alone approached, even in 
symbol — the hidden manna, or bread of life imparted 
to the soul, and the white stone of light and perfec- 
tion by which the will of God was made known to 
the High Priest. 

The next two cities mentioned, answer to our great 
manufacturing cities. Thyatira and Sardis. Sardis 
stood near the banks of the river Pactolus, the sands 
of which were mixed with gold-dust, and it had been 
the abode of that fabulously rich king of Lydia, 
Croesus, who displayed all his treasures to the wise 
Solon without being able to draw from him the 
avowal that he was so happy as the two virtuous 
youths who died in the midst of an act of filial piety. 
There, too, it is said, had first been discovered the 
purple dye which is contained in the glands of certain 
moUusks, and is capable of imparting the richest 
purple and crimson to wool. A Sardian, seeing a 
dog stain his mouth by crushing a murex in its 
shell, applied the discovery, and made the fortune 
of his city. Heaps of fragments of shells throughout 
the Levant attest the multitudes of the creatures 
whose juices brightened the royal, the consular, the 
imperial garment, but nowhere did the manufacture 
reach such perfection as at Sardis. The Persian 
kings had exacted a tribute of Sardian carpets, on 
which to tread as they mounted their horses, and 



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THE EXILE OF P ATM OS. 



coverings made at Sardis were considered as the 
most sumptuous of adornments. 

The city of Thyatira had been founded by the 
Macedonians when they overran the East, and had 
become almost equal to the neighbouring Sardis in 
her own arts. There were great guilds or companies 
of potters, tanners, weavers, dyers, and robe-makers, 
and it was one of these dealers in the rich robes of 
purple, who, travelling into the northern country of 
Macedonia, had thence brought back the knowledge 
of the gospel. It was Lydia, a purple seller, whose 
trade had no doubt brought her into contact with 
Jews, from whom she had already learnt to know and 
honour the true God, and to join their worship by the 
river side at Philippi, where they had no regular 
synagogue. There she listened to St. Paul, and was 
lifted to the higher truth that he unfolded out of 
Judaism; and thence the good seed was carried 
home, which had so grown and prospered that, un- 
like the Ephesians, ''the last was more than the 
first," and the Saviour in heaven commended the, 
works, and charity, and service, and patience of the 
Thyatirans. 

But as it was a woman who brought home the truth 
to Thyatira, so strangely it appears that a woman was 
the chief scandal and temptation to the Church there. 
She is spoken of in the message by the name of 
Jezebel, that queen whose witchcrafts were so many, 
and who worked the ruin of Israel by her devotion to 
the service of Baal. From other sources, we gather 
that this woman, who did the work of Jezebel, was 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 89 

known as the sybil Sambatha, and that she was either 
a Jewess or a Chaldean by birth, and practised magic 
rites in a temple outside the walls. From what is 
here said, it is plain that she had once been a Chris- 
tian, and we can imagine her one of those beautiful 
and gifted Jewesses, able — as was said of Judith — ^to 
deceive the whole earth ; once baptized, but falling 
gradually under the temptations of power and admira- 
tion, having come to use her grace and skill to keep up 
her influence alike with Christians and heathens, and in 
earnest, or in deception, practising magic arts. Even 
the angel of Thyatira tolerated her, but the Lord, who 
had given her space for repentance, directs His fearful 
threats against her, foretelling the shame and destruc- 
tion that should come on her and those she had led 
away ; while the faithful should have their share in 
the kingdom of their Lord, and to them should be 
given the Morning Star. Christ Himself is called the 
Bright and Morning Star, and thus this beautiful 
promise must mean that He will be especially im- 
parted to such as withstand the temptations that 
unsanctified love of beauty and of dealing with un- 
hallowed mysteries held out at Thyatira. 

Sardis does not seem to have had any such definite 
temptation; indeed the Church there had a name 
for life. It had once warmly received the truth. 
Once it heard the Word with joy, but the good seed 
had been stifled in cares, and riches, and pleasures — 
in purple and fine linen — and no fruit was coming 
to perfection. It was all death and dying, and the 
warning is stern that the time of judgment would 



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90 THE EXILE OF PATMOS. 

fall sharp and speedily, unless there were a great 
repentance and renewal of zeaL And yet there were 
still a few who had kept their garments undefiled, 
and they receive the promise of walking — not in the 
purple robes of Sardis — but in the glistening white of 
their risen Saviour's robes. White garments — a name 
not blotted out of the Book of Life — these are the hopes 
held out to the faithful and victorious men of Sardis — 
victorious, some over the trials of business and wealth, 
some over the temptations of scorn and poverty. 

The city and the Church of Philadelphia were 
alike poor. The place was in a volcanic region, 
much shaken by earthquakes, and in the time of the 
Emperor Tiberius, forty years before, had been laid 
in ruins by one of these terrible visitations. All the 
other seven cities had suffered greatly, and some had 
needed the aid of government to rebuild them, but 
Philadelphia had been the very centre of the shock, 
and had never entirely recovered from the desolation. 
Yet it is no wonder that when, sixteen centuries 
later, a city full of new hopes and schemes of good 
was founded in the New World, it was named after 
poor earthquake-stricken Philadelphia; for not only 
does the name mean the City of Brotherly Love, 
taken indeed from a heathen prince, yet the most 
beautiful title a Christian town could bear, but " He 
that is holy, He that is true," spake to that Church 
in terms of almost unmixed commendation and of 
the highest promise. 

Men who make a right use of life in the midst of 
awful natural phenomena, are likely to be the most 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 91 

impressed with a sense of God's power and presence, 
and to rest most gladly in the sense of His pro- 
tection ; and so the Church of Philadelphia and her 
angel, whom we believe to have been Quadratus, are 
blessed for having kept Christ's word, and not denied 
His name, but having shown strength, though it was 
but little. He who bears the key of David, the 
royal key of the kingdom of Heaven, had opened that 
none could shut the door before these true-hearted 
men ; and He further promised that the Jews, the 
chief enemies, should learn the truth and come and 
worship, convinced by the faith and love of the 
true Israel of God in the City of Love. Yet more, 
Philadelphia should be shielded in the day of trial 
that should befall the rest of the world, and the 
promise to him that overcometh, was of becoming a 
very pillar in the Temple of God, that Temple of 
living stones, where he should be one of the polished, 
beauteous columns of the inmost sanctuary., 

Philadelphia and Smyrna are the happy Churches, 
with blessings for the present and promises for the 
future ; but it is sad to turn from them to the last 
Church of the Seven, to Laodicea, which had been 
a daughter-Church so beloved by St. Paul, that he 
addressed to it an epistle, which was to be exchanged 
for that to the Colossians, so that each might be read 
aloud in either city. It is probable that it had been con- 
verted by St. Paul's disciple Epaphras, and over it, as 
we gather and infer, had been set Archippus, the son 
of the noble, free-hearted Philemon, a friend kindly 
greeted by St. Paul, and under the superintendence 



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92 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 

of St. John. What better beginning could there be ? 
And yet may we not take it as a token of the languid 
careless temper of Laodicea, that, while the private 
letter of Paul to the good Colossian has been carefully 
treasured to show the free mercy and justice of the 
Christian temper in small details, yet the letter to 
the Church of Laodicea, written in bonds at Rome, 
has been utterly lost and forgotten, so long ago 
that forgeries were abroad in early times, professing 
to be the Epistle to the Laodiceans. 

The epistle from St Paul is lost, but this is a 
terrible epistle from St John, or rather from St 
John's Master, rebuking the Laodiceans for their 
lukewarmness. They were neither cold nor hot, but 
feebly, decorously religious, and perfectly contented 
with themselves and their own fair appearance, while 
they were absolute subjects of disgust to their Lord 
— fit only to be rejected, spued out of His mouth. 
They complacently rejoiced in their gifts ; while in 
His sight they were poor, and blind, and naked, and 
miserable ; and nothing could restore them but His 
eye-salve, which should clear their sight to behold 
themselves even as they were, so that they might 
repent while yet there was time. Perhaps no warning 
among all those to the Seven Churches comes so 
fearfully home to our hearts as that to the indifferent 
Laodicea. And yet the hopes at the end are very 
sweet, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if 
any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will 
come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with 
Me.*' This is the blessing even on earth, and in the 



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THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 93 

end the promise to him that overcometh is of sitting 
down with Christ in His Father's throne— even as 
He overcame, and there sat down. 

He knows that, to many, the victory over sluggish 
ease and self-complacency is infinitely harder than 
that over poverty, scorn, or persecution, and thus the 
very greatest privilege of all is set forth to rouse the 
Laodiceans. 

So closed the direct exhortation to the Seven 
Churches, and those seven angels or messengers who 
had been placed there and guided by the Apostle, 
who was charged to record the message. The un- 
veiling of heavenly mysteries did not, however, close 
here. 

Probably, at a different time, John again was sum- 
moned by the Voice, and beheld a door opened in 
heaven, and, beyond it, that of which the now- 
destroyed temple had been a mere model — the very 
pattern once revealed to Moses after which the 
Tabernacle had been made, and which again Ezekiel 
had seen. There John beheld the true Mercy Seat, 
the true Cherubim, the true Lamps of Fire, the true 
crystal Sea, the true Altar of Incense ; and heard the 
voices of praise from Cherubim and Seraphim, angels 
and saints, the Church in heaven, the Church at rest, 
the Church struggling on earth, all in unison glorify- 
ing the Almighty, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of 
Sabaoth, and adoring the eternal Sacrifice of the 
Lamb slain, and yet alive for evermore. 

That great sight remained steadfast, while other 
mysterious visions came before him, showing in figure 



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94 THE EXILE OF PA TMOS. 

the strife between good and evil, the Church and 
the powers of darkness, even to the consummation 
of all things, and the final purifying of the earth 
from evil, and the eternal restoration of Paradise, 
with the Tree of Life, the glorious city of our God, 
and the perpetual light of God's presence. Then, 
and not till then, he lost sight of the heavenly temple, 
the crystal sea, and all those intermediate modes of 
bringing man back to approach his God ; but the full 
and entire presence and glory blessed those of man- 
kind who had been redeemed out of every people and 
nation and tongue. And he beheld the full com- 
pletion of the great work of his Master : as he had 
watched the agony of the conflict, so it was vouch- 
safed to him to witness the triumph, the glory, 
and the fulness of the achievement — the perfect 
restoration. 

When he came back to the rocks of Patmos, and 
his solitary exiled old age, well might the words 
recur to him with the most comfort : " Behold I come 
quickly ; " so that he could not but in recording them, 
reply, " Even so come. Lord jESUS." 

And though "as men count slackness," it may 
seem as if long years, seventeen centuries indeed, had 
passed since that announcement, the Advent will 
assuredly show itself to have been veritably prompt 
and sudden, when we, alike with St. John and the 
seven angels of the Churches, shall be awakened with 
the sound of the trumpet. 

The Apostle wrote the marvels he had seen, so far 
as human language could .express them, and there- 



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THE EXILE OF PATMOS, 95 

with sealed up the books of the Holy Scripture, 
being as we may believe caused so to do as being 
the last of that series of writers who at intervals 
during two thousand years had been inspired by tht 
Holy Ghost to write the messages of God to man. 



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CHAPTER VII. 



THE APOSTLE OF LOVE. 



" A gate, that opens wide to those 
That do lament their sin." 

Lamentation of a Sinner. 

On one of the steep slopes of the wild ravines of Asia 
Minor, with a torrent rushing beneath, and among the 
wild rocks overgrown with brushwood and the luxuriant 
herbage of shady places in the East, might have been 
seen an aged man, with snowy hair and beard, and 
keen, undimmed eyes, bright with a lofty, upturned 
expression, as though ever looking at a joy beyond 
mortal knowledge, with a look of radiant loving- 
kindness beaming round him, such as would win all 
who came near him to lean on him for comfort and 
for sympathy, and which made it seem only natural 
that a tame partridge should nestle in his bosom, 
and court the caressing touch of his hand on its 
brown speckled feathers. Though evidently very 
aged, his form was not bowed, nor was there any air 
of^weakness or decay, as he drew the rein of his horse, 
and asked his guide if they were not near the place. 
Few persons were wont to linger in that valley ; most 



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THE APOSTLE OF LOVE. 97 

hurried through it with terror and alarm ; but, though 
an anxious expression for a moment ruffled the broad, 
clear calm of his brow, his lips moved in prayer, 
and when loud shouts and trampling sounds were 
heard behind the rocks, before and behind, instead 
of the deadly terror such sounds were wont to inspire^ 
his countenance lighted up with an unspeakable beam 
of joy and hope, like that of a father hearing the 
first footsteps of a long-absent son. Forth rushed, 
with threatening cries, a horde of wild-looking men, 
with streaming hair, loose white kilts, and bare feet 
— ^some with the short Roman sword, some with 
a long lance, and some further off with bows and 
arrows levelled against that one old man. They 
took rudely from him his horse and bound his guide, 
but when they saw that he only stood still and 
smiled a kindly greeting to them, they paused in 
wonder. He waved his hand, and bade them take 
him to their captain, and there was an authority in 
his manner, a dignity in his bearing, that, though he 
was clad in homely garments, overawed them, so that 
they scarcely spoke as they guided him to an open 
space of grass, where there sat, on horseback, a tall, 
handsome young man, bravely equipped with the 
bright helmet, breastplate, and spear of a warrior. 
He was a lordly-looking youth, but no sooner did he 
catch a sight of the venerable head in the midst of 
the robbers, than, with a cry of mingled fear and 
anguish, he turned his horse, and was about to flee, as 
though from the face of a centurion and all his band. 
The old man, however, sprang forth, holding out his 

H 



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98 THE APOSTLE OF LOVE, 

arms affectionately, and calling him with the tenderest 
names to come to one who had longed after and 
sought for him ; and, as that voice fell on that captain's 
ears, he threw himself from his horse, and dropped 
absolutely on the ground, weeping aloud, and laying 
his forehead in the dust in an agony of shame and 
misery, waving off the old man, as though the very 
sight of him were overpowering ; but as the old man 
continued to approach, still speaking to him with 
fondling words, as a shepherd rejoicing over a lost 
sheep that he had just found, the unhappy man so 
far arose as to embrace his knees, sobbing forth that 
it was all in vain, there was no pardon for such as he, 
no renewing for one who had so fallen away, and 
hiding away his right hand which had dealt so many 
cruel blows and defiled with so much blood. 

When last those two had met it was in one of the 
chambers which Christian rich men set apart for wor- 
ship. There had stood that aged man, robed like 
a priest of the old sanctuary, with a fair mitre on his 
head, and over his brow a plate of gold, on which 
were graven the great words, "Holiness unto the 
Lord." And as, at the head of his ministers, he led 
the prayers and hymns, or spake forth the love of 
his Saviour and the redemption of the world, with 
that intense, glorious purity of life that had become 
possible, that youth's face had glowed with eager 
hope and enthusiasm, and his heart had burnt within 
him. He stood but in the outward part, he had to 
turn away ere the full feast was held ; but the kind 
bright eye had singled him out, the sweet tender voice 



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St John and the Robber, 



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rHE APOSTLE OF LOVE. 99 

had spoken to him, and encouraged him to seek full 
peace, pardon, and strength, then presented him to 
the bishop of the place, praying that, as a favour 
to himself, the youth might be specially instructed, 
watched over, and prepared for baptism. Noticed by 
that most venerable man — the man who had himself 
been loved by the Holy One — how was it possible, 
then, thought the lad, but that he should walk in 
those holy paths ? And so had he b^un 1 

But, alas ! what a history lay between that day and 
the present! Hope, eagerness, kind teaching from 
the bishop of the place at first ; then the solemn bap- 
tism in "the Name of the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Ghost ;" but after this, the finding that the eager 
desires of hot youth had not passed away. The ban- 
quet of the heathen, the garland-bound brows, the 
rich wine poured out, the merry songs to Dionysus or 
Aphrodite, the hunt in honour of great Artemis, the 
dance around the Midsummer fires, had not lost their 
charms; there had been a weariness of the tame life 
the Christians were leading, a wandering into for- 
bidden paths ; then a sharp rebuke from the bishop 
— a rebuke that fretted and drove him farther into 
wilfulness; then an excess that could not be over- 
looked ; a ceasing even to show himself among the 
Christians ; a sense that all was lost, an offence against 
the orderly laws of the heathen government, a hasty 
flight from the city, a meeting with the robbers, reck- 
less despair making him the boldest of all, plunder, 
spoliation, murder perhaps. Oh, what could be in 
store for him — him for whom there could be no 

H 2 



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loo THE APOSTLE OF LOVE, 

second washing in baptism ; him who had heard that 
there was a sin unto death, and that there were fallen 
men who could not be renewed unto repentance? 
Why should that terrible old man, that true Son of 
Thunder, have sought him but, save to reproach and 
overwhelm him with the threatenings of the anger he 
had but too well merited ? 

Nay, there are no thunders. The thunder has come 
from his own guilty conscience. It is the still small 
Voice that tells him, as it has told aching hearts ever 
since : — 

"And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with 
the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is 
the propitiation for our sins." 

Who should tell of the Shepherd's love for His 
sheep like him who had leant on His bosom, who 
like Him had come forth into the wilderness for the 
lost sheep, and, in his strong faith, could well-nigh 
near the rejoicings of the angels at the tears that 
were bedewing his feet ? He lifted the lost and found 
from the earth, gathered him into his arms, and es- 
pecially grasped and kissed that blood-stained hand, 
for the sake of the good that he said it should yet do. 

Robber-helm and sword were cast away, the wild ' 
men stood awed, some touched, some ready to scoff, 
as their leader, holding the kindly hand that had been 
put forth to save him, meekly trod the path that led 
away from the wilderness back to the haunts of men. 
Long he sorrowed, long he wept and prayed, long 
was his probation, but one voice, one face, never let 
him sink again into despair; the hand that had 



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THE APOSTLE OF LOVE. loi 

plucked him from the fire never relaxed its support, 
the prayer of the righteous man never ceased, and 
the repentant sinner was once more a partaker of the 
heavenly feast, never again to fall away. 

The story above is the simple truth, save that a 
little description has been added to the short sentence 
of St. Clement of Alexandria, who tells us how St 
John, after his return from his banishment at Patmos, 
thus reclaimed a fair and comely youth, whom he 
had noticed on one of his visitations, and committed 
to the bishop's charge for baptism. His fall had been 
owing to the neglect of the bishop, whom St John 
had rebuked with the words, "Where is that pledge 
which I gave to thy keeping ? " 

It is also true that St. John wore the dress above 
described during divine service: and his love for his 
tame partridge has likewise been handed down to us by 
the loving recollection of his disciples, who would fain 
have believed that they should never lose the glorious 
old man. 

He continued for many years longer at Ephesus, 
a very aged, feeble man, unable for any exertion, 
but witnessing still by his very presence to the 
wondrous years of the Divine Saviour's stay on 
earth. And as he was borne in a litter through the 
streets of Ephesus, he would ever and anon lift his 
hand when he saw members of his flock stand reve- 
rently by to watch him, and would murmur the 
watchword of his life: ''Little children, love one 
another." 

When at last his spirit departed and he went to be 



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I02 THE APOSTLE OF LOVE, 

with his Lord, he is reckoned to have been at least a 
hundred years old, and even then there were some 
who would not believe him to be really dead, but 
deemed that he was lyir^ in a deep sleep in his tomb 
at Ephesus, awaiting his awakening at the second 
Advent, and tarrying till his Master should come. 

But this was a vain superstition, for had it so been^ 
the beloved disciple would have obtained a lot far 
inferior to those of the thousands he beheld with 
white robes and palms in their hands. He slept 
indeed, but his spirit had found its home, and joined 
the friends, the brother, and the more than brother, 
more than friend, of his lifetime ; and his words, 
deeply instinct with the Spirit of God, are living with 
us still, living, soaring, and bearing us up. So that 
whereas each Gospel is considered to have an emblem 
among the cherubic forms, the emblem of St. John's 
is the eagle, which has the loftiest flight, the keenest 
eye, the highest and surest nest, of all created beings. 



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CHAPTER VIII. 

IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

** They met the tyrant's brandished steel, 
The lion's gory mane ; 
They bowed their necks the death to feel, 
Who follows in their train?" — Bp, Heber, 

When the disciples were wrangling at Capernaum 
as to which should be the greatest, their Lord rebuked 
them by calling a little child, placing him in the midst, 
and as He held him in His arms, saying, ** Except ye 
be converted and become as little children, ye shall 
not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever 
therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the 
same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoso 
shall receive one such little child in My Name, re- 
ceiveth Me ; but whoso shall offend one of these little 
ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that 
a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he 
were drowned in the depth of the sea." 

It has been from the earliest times the belief of 
the Syriac Church that this favoured little child was 
Ignatius, and that it was therefore that he was sur- 



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104 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

named Theophorus. This word, according whether the 
accent be placed on the first or the second o, signifies 
in Greek, either the God-carried, or the God-carrier. 
And as we shall see, Ignatius himself explained it in 
the second sense, but this might have been because 
the first would have been even more incomprehen- 
sible to his auditor; and though the legend, iden- 
tifying him with that child is utterly unproved, there 
are circumstances that dispose us to receive it as not 
improbable. 

Ignatius is known to have been bred up from earliest 
childhood among the Apostles, nursed up among them, 
and always with them; and certainly the words of 
the Saviour, while applying to all His little ones, give 
the impression that He was preparing the Apostles 
for the tenderness, reverence, and watchfulness that 
the presence of a young child among them would 
require. May Ignatius not, then, be reckoned as the 
first of the many orphan babes whom the Church has 
received and bred up in Her Master's Name, and for 
His sake } 

No record of the nation or country of Ignatius has 
been preserved ; but if this legend were true, he would 
probably have been a native of the lake country of 
Galilee. And his name, which signifies " Fiery," is a 
corrupt Latin one, such as was sometimes borne by 
the Jews. It was also accordant with the spirit of 
St John, that just as he kept himself subordinate to 
St Peter after the second rebuke to his ambition, so 
he should have made the child thus put forward by 
his Master his own special charge ; and Ignatius was 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT 105 

his own pupil, brought up by him, and thus con- 
versing also frequently with St Peter and St. Paul. 

He probably remained in close attendance on St. 
John, following him as Luke, Timothy, Titus, and 
Trophimus waited on St. Paul, until his training was 
completed ; and, about the year 65, when he would 
have been between thirty and forty years of age, he 
was sent to govern the Gentile Church of AntiocL 

How perilous a position, and how wise and firm 
a man was there needed, we shall understand by a 
glance at the city and its history. The peninsula of 
Asia Minor projects almost exactly at right angles to 
the coast of Syria, each country being built, as it 
were, on the frame-work of its skeleton range of 
mountains — the Taurus forming the horizontal line 
running east and west, and the Lebanon coming 
down southward from it At the meeting angle of 
these two chains of hills, the river Orontes rushes out 
between them on its way to the sea ; and this nook, with 
the glorious mountain back-ground, the sea in front, 
the river in the midst, and the fertile soil, sure to be 
produced by these combined causes, formed a most 
inviting place for a city. None was, however, built 
there till B.C. 300, when Seleucus, one of Alexander's 
generals, having succeeded in mastering Syria, Baby- 
lonia, and great part of Asia Minor, founded a city to 
be the capital of his mighty dominions, and named it 
Antiochia from the name of his father and his son, 
who were both called Antiochus. In peopling his city 
he invited a large colony of Jews thither, promising 
them a magistrate of their own nation, and equal 



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io6 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT, 



rights with those of the Greeks whom he settled 
in the same place : and though the Jews properly 
belonged to the Egyptian kingdom of Ptolemy, a 
large number accepted his invitation, and lived and 
traded prosperously at Antioch. 

It became a magnificent place, consisting of four cities 
joined in one, built by four successive kings, and its 
most special beauty was a great wide street four miles 
long, and on each side adorned with double colonnades 
of pillars, beautiful in themselves, and supporting roofs 
that gave shelter from the noonday sun. But Antioch 
was for many years a word of evil omen to Jerusalem. 
There dwelt those kings of the north, prophesied of 
by Daniel, whose wars with the Egyptian kings of 
the south were mostly fought out in Palestine ; and 
when the Jews had weakly and treacherously deserted 
the mild, friendly rule of the Ptolemies, and given 
themselves over to the house of Seleucus, they had 
fallen under that deadly persecution which had led 
to their independence and to their fatal alliance with 
the Romans. 

The Levant has an enervating climate for men of 
European birth, and the Greeks of Antioch dete- 
riorated in a few generations. The Romans con- 
quered them in due time, and made Antioch the 
head-quarters of the Proconsul of Syria. Then it 
became more magnificent than ever, and was con- 
sidered as the third city in the empire — Rome itself, 
and Seleucia on the Tigris, being its only superiors in 
wealth, splendour, and population. Beautiful gardens 
bordered the river, and the delicious breezes from the 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 107 

mountains and the sea made it a favourite resort of 
the Ramans, who regarded the station there as the 
most delightful • that could be assigned to officer or 
soldier. Indeed, the legions were apt to live so much 
at their ease there as to be hardly fit for serious 
warfare when summoned thence. 

Such a climate, with no real cares of state, could 
not fail to demoralize the people, and as Greeks could 
not help being quick-witted and excitable, the games 
and shows of the theatre occupied them almost 
to frenzy. They were extremely turbulent and 
fanciful, and gave much trouble to their rulers by 
the frequent frivolous disturbances that broke out 
among them, and were further provoked by the 
universal turn for bestowing nicknames. 

The Jews, who had continued to flourish and trade 
there through all the dianges of rule, were the most 
trustworthy part of the population. And this was 
the first place, beyond the confines of the Holy 
Land, where the believers, when scattered by Herod 
Agrippa's violence, came and brought the knowledge 
of the truth with them. Here the better sort of 
heathens, who had begun to regard the religion of 
the Jews as a refuge from the weary gaieties, shows, 
and strifes of Antioch, eagerly accepted the still 
higher teaching. And here the idle, laughing popu- 
lation bestowed on the believers that nickname which 
is our chiefest glory — that of Christians. 

Here was the first centre of action of St Paul's 
teaching among the Gentiles, and here he found the 
one Gentile Evangelist, St Luke, companion of the 



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io8 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

Saints ; but here, too, was a strong contention between 
the Jews and Gentiles. And so distasteful to the 
Jews were the habits of the Greek converts, that even 
St Peter was, for a time, led to hold aloof from those 
who were not bom to the Jewish ritual. It seems 
that this dislike prevailed so strongly that the Jewish 
and Gentile Christians could not at first be gathered 
under the rule of a single bishop, and St Peter, 
having appointed Euodias for the Jewish Christians, 
Ignatius was placed by St John over the Gentile 
believers. After the death of Euodias the Jewish 
part of the Church, having become less opinionated, 
were ready to come under the rule of one who, if we 
read his story aright, was of their own nation by 
birth, but so brought up as to be above the mere 
Jewish prejudices. 

And when his master was taken away from his 
head, Ignatius was the connecting link with the days 
of the Saviour's presence upon earth, and was revered 
accordingly. Armies might march, parties might 
rage, revellers might laugh, crowds might shout 
through those wide streets and make the colonnades 
ring, now with intoxicated merriment, now with rage 
and derision, but in one quarter of the city a grave, 
gentle, childlike man was showing what love and 
purity were, and keeping those around him in continual 
mind how far their hidden life lay above and beyond 
that of the world sunk in wickedness around them. 
In the place of worship, where believers gs^thered 
around him to celebrate their feast, he taught them 
to sing hymns and psalms antiphonally — that is, one 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT, 109 

side answering another, and the verse most appro- 
priate to the season recur at intervals. So sweet and 
elevating was the sound 'that it was whispered that 
even thus he had heard the angels praising God in 
heaven ; but, at any rate, it is certain that his master, 
St John, had heard the angelic choirs replying 
to one another : and even on earth, it was thus that 
many of the psalms had been sung by bodies of 
priests and Levites on the Temple steps, where Igna- 
tius would have heard them in his boyhood. 

There is no trace of persecution at Antioch for 
many years. Indeed, Ignatius ruled between forty and 
fifty years without apparently being molested by the 
heathen government ; but in the year 115 Antioch was 
shaken and almost destroyed by a tremendous earth- 
quake, and the light-minded population in their terror 
began to imagine that the gods were offended at their 
desertion by so many worshippers. Numerous great 
catastrophes had happened in the Roman world ol 
late, and the dread and terror that were spreading 
over men's minds made them imagine that the gods 
were to be appeased by terrifying the Christians back 
to their services. The savage Emperor Domitian had 
perished, and the men who in succession came to the 
purple after him were not reckless tyrants, but 
thoughtful and able men, bred up in the discipline of 
the army, anxious to be just, and with a strong 
craving to restore the old self-ruling, majestic cha- 
racter of the ancient Roman, of what they deemed 
the golden age of their commonwealth. 

Trajan, the reigning emperor, was one of these 



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no IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT, 

men ; upright, hardworking, and sensible. He had 
striven hard that all persons should have justice, and 
when the question of persecution of the Christians had 
been set before him by his firiend Pliny, he had first 
caused a careful inquiry to be made into their prac- 
tices, and then, he had desired that no one should be 
encouraged to inform against them, though if they 
were brought before the tribunals, the law must take 
its course. 

Trajan himself was in the East at the time of the 
earthquake at Antioch, and in the fierce excitement 
and terror it occasioned, and the wild accusations 
raised against the Christians, the aged Ignatius, pro- 
bably knowing his just and reasonable character, 
thought it advisable for the benefit of his flock, to 
present himself before him, and rebut the unreasonable 
charges laid against the Church. Trajan's Eastern 
experiences had, however, alarmed him since he wrote 
his moderate letter to Pliny. There had been great 
insurrections of the Eastern Jews, the Bishop of 
Pella, Simeon, had been put to death chiefly because 
his descent from David kept the Roman governors 
anxious ; and the emperor was disposed to ridicule and 
trample on whatever would not accommodate itself to 
the great uniform Roman system. Seated on his ivory 
chair, his lictors round him with their bundles of rods, 
the purple-robed old weather-beaten soldier, in whom 
was centred all the might of the Roman Empire, then 
at its very widest extent, gazed on the pure calm 
countenance of the aged man, in its firm gentleness, 
and his first words were bitter and ungracious, as using 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT in 

a term, literally meaning bad demon, but applied 
generally to signify an unlucky wretch, he exclaimed, 

"Who art thou, Kakodemon, who dost dare to 
transgress my commands, and cause others to perish 
miserably ? " 

The bishop gave the name by whicii he was usually 
known, — Ignatius Theophorus. 

" What is this Theophorus ? " demanded Trajan. 

"It means one who beareth God in his heart," 
returned the prisoner. 

" Dost thou aver," returned Trajan, " that we bear 
not in our hearts the gods who aid us to conquer our 
enemies ? " 

To this old doctrine, perceived by Socrates of old, 
when there was nothing better to perceive, Ignatius 
answered, 

"The demons whom you adore are no gods, for 
there is but one God who made the heavens and the 
earth and all that is therein, and one jESUS CHRIST, 
His Only Son, to whose Kingdom I long to come." 

" You mean," said the emperor, " Him who was 
crucified under Pontius Pilate." 

"Even so. He it is who by His death crucified 
sin with the origin of sin, triumphed over the malice 
of demons, and cast them down beneath the feet of 
those who bear Him in their heart," replied Ignatius. 

" Then, you carry this Christ in your heart ? " asked 
Trajan. 

"Assuredly, for is it not written, 'I will dwell in 
them and walk in them ? ' " 

It seems as if Trajan could have understood the 



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112 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

guiding presence of a genius or demon, such as the 
Socratic philosophy recognised, but to have these 
beings identified with one single crucified Man was 
foolishness to him; and, besides, Antioch must be 
appeased, and an example made to intimidate the 
sect So he spoke, — " We decree that Ignatius, who 
says he bears the Crucified within him, should be 
bound and carried to Rome to be thrown to the 
beasts, and become a spectacle to the people." 

In a transport of ecstacy, Ignatius exclaimed, " I 
thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast given me love for 
Thee, and hast granted me to be bound with chains, 
even as was Thine Apostle Paul ; " and so saying, he 
himself assisted in fastening on his chains, and placed 
himself in the hands of the soldiers who were to have 
him in custody. 

Ten soldiers were appointed to keep him, and he 
was sent to Rome by a strangely circuitous route. 
It would seem that the prudent and not inhuman 
emperor thought that much might be made of his 
example by exhibiting him far and wide, and perhaps 
also, that though the sight of his execution at Antioch 
might excite the wild passions of the oriental Greeks 
to frenzy and tumult, yet that he might be saved at 
Rome. 

Some of his friends started at once for Rome to 
meet him there, and three were allowed to accompany 
him — Philo, a Cilician deacon. Reus, and Agatho- 
podes, who is believed to have written the history of 
his latter days. But if the notion was entertained of 
making his misery serve as a warning to the Chris- 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 113 

tians, it was a failure. The old man had kept through 
life the childlike, joyous, lowly temper that had once 
been held up an example to the disciples, and was so 
much delighted to be treading the same path as the 
holy men he had revered in his childhood, that no ill 
usage could sadden him. Wherever his ship touched, 
he was always to be seen with the same radiant smiling 
look ; and when the angry soldiers tried to sadden him, 
he merely called them leopards, who only grew fiercer 
the more mildly they were met They took him by the 
route that must have suited him best, — namely, by 
Smyrna, the bishopric of his beloved friend and fellow 
disciple, Polycarp, who, though much younger than he, 
must have felt the meeting as almost bringing back 
the days when both had sat at the feet of their beloved 
St John, who had been dead about twelve years. 

Ignatius was allowed to land, and was detained for 
some time at Smyrna. His situation was evidently 
much like that of St Paul forty years before. He 
would probably not have been put in any prison, 
but would have been allowed to dwell in a private 
house, guarded by the soldiers, and perhaps chained 
by the wrist to them in turn, though more pro- 
bably this would only have been done when he was 
out of the house. Indulgence might be purchased 
for him by his friends from his guards ; he would be 
permitted the attendance of his companion-ministers 
who had come with him from home, and would 
freely receive visits from his friends, probably be even 
allowed to walk abroad, when chained to the soldier 
who kept him. Thus he had much constant and 

I 



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1 14 IGNA TIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

blessed intercourse with his friend Polycarp ; and all 
the neighbouring bishops came down to see, for the 
last time, one so deeply loved and honoured — the last 
visible link between the great thirty-three years and 
the subsequent generation. Onesimus came from 
Ephesus, with four attendants ; the youthful Damas 
came from Magnesia, Polybius from Tralles : and all 
were so fervent in love for Ignatius as to have no 
fears in making their Christian profession thus mani- 
fest to their enemies. 

These visits called forth letters from the imprisoned 
Bishop to the different Churches. It seems as though 
he regarded the Ephesians as having recovered the 
holiness they had lost at the time when they were 
rebuked by St. John ; but then Ignatius did not, like 
his master, write by inspiration. He begins, — 

" Ignatius> who is also called Theophorus, to the 
Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most 
happy, being blessed in all the greatness and fulness 
of God the Father, and predestinated before all cen- 
turies to everlasting, unchangeable glory, joined to- 
gether and elect through the true Passion and by the 
Will of the Father and of jESUS Christ our God, 
full of joy through jESUS Christ in His pure grace." 

After this greeting, on the model of St Paul's, and 
the like of which begins all his epistles, Ignatius 
goes on to say that the Ephesians had become known 
to him, they having sent to meet him, "on hearing 
that I was come bound to Syria for the common 
Name and Hope, trusting to your prayers that it 
might be granted to me to fight with beasts at Rome, 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 115 

that by my witness I may become indeed a follower 
of Him who 'gave Himself for us, an offering and 
sacrifice to Grod/ I received your whole number in 
the name of God in the person of Onesimus, your 
bishop, a man of unspeakable charity, whom I pray 
you all to love and to seek to resemble. Blessed be 
He who hath granted you, being worthy, to obtain 
such a bishop." 

If this, indeed, were the runaway slave Onesimus, 
whom St. Paul called his " son, begotten in his bonds," 
this was a glorious end after a dark beginning. 

Ignatius then mentions the other Ephesians who 
had visited him at the same time. 

"As to my fellow-servant, Burrhus, your deacon 
in regard to God, and unspeakably beloved, I beg 
that he may remain longer, both for your honour and 
that of your bishop. Crocus also, worthy of God and 
of you, whom I have received as the visible token of 
your love to me, hath in all things refreshed me, as 
the Father of our Lord jESUS CHRIST shall also 
refresh him ; together with Onesimus and Burrhus, 
and Euplus and Pronto, by means of whom, as re- 
gards love, I have beheld all of you. May I always 
have joy of you, if indeed I be worthy thereof.'* 

After this affectionate opening, the exhortation in 
the letter begins by his saying that he does not "seek 
to command, as though he himself were any great one, 
since he only now began to be a disciple" — meaning, 
of course, that this was but the commencement of the 
pilgrimage towards death, which he prized as a follow- 
ing in the path of Calvary. His first exhortation is 

I 2 



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Ii6 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT 

to complete communion and fellowship : not that they 
had failed therein, for he says, " Your worthy priest- 
hood are in concord with your bishop as are the 
strings with the lyre, and in your union, jESUS CHRIST 
is sung, and do ye, man by man, become a choir, that 
being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of 
God in unison, ye may with one voice sing to the 
Father through jESUS CHRIST." 

" If I," he says, "have in so short a time enjoyed a 
fellowship — not of man, but of the Spirit, with your 
bishop — ^bow happy do I reckon you who are joined to 
him as the Church is to jESUS CHRIST, and as jESUS 
Christ is to the Father, that so all may agree in One 
Let no man be deceived : if any man be not within 
the Altar, he hath not the Bread of God ; for if the 
prayer of one or two possess such power, how much 
more that of the bishop and of the whole Church! 
He, therefore, who forsaketh the assembling of our- 
selves together is condemned by his pride, for it is 
written, ' God resisteth the proud.' " 

Still Onesimus was, he declares, the first to testify 
to the orderliness and submission of his flock, so that 
ne did not write by way of reproof, but of warning, 
quoting to them, from the'r own Epistle from St. Paul, 
the declaration that there is " One Lord, one Fakh, 
one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above 
all, and through all, and in you all." 

This exhortation to unity is the prelude to a warn- 
ing against false teachers, whom he bids them avoid 
as wild beasts, or mad dogs, who bite secretly, and can 
hardly be healed, since there is but one true Physician 



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IGNA TlUSy THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 1 17 

— to Whom, the inference is, they would not resort. 
With regard to the heathen : 

" Pray ye without ceasing on behalf of other men, 
for there is hope of repentance for them that they 
may attain to God. See then that they be taught by 
your works, if not otherwise. Be meekness your reply 
to their wrath, lowliness to their boasting, prayers to 
their blasphemies; in contrast to their error, be ye 
stedfast in the faith, and oppose your gentleness to 
their cruelty. While we take care not to imitate their 
actions, let us be found their brethren in true kind- 
ness, and let us seek to be followers of the Lord (than 
whom was any ever more unjustly used, more desti- 
tute, more despised?) that so no plant of the devil 
may be found in you ; but ye may remain in all 
holiness and sobriety in jESUS CHRIST, both with 
respect to the flesh and the spirit." 

He then repeats what his master, St. John, had 
often spoken and written, that these are "the last 
times," i,e. that the final dispensation has been vouch- 
safed, and that no fresh covenant will supersede that 
brought by our Lord, but that we are living with the 
expectation of His Second Advent before us, as the 
close of the present state of things. From this he 
deduces the same lesson as had been done in the 
Epistle to the Hebrews by St. Paul, whose connexion 
with Ephesus he loves to commemorate. 

" Ye are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel 
with Paul the holy, the martyr, the deservedly most 
happy, in whose footsteps may I be found when I 
shall attain to God, who in all his epistles makes 



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ii8 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT 

mention of you in Christ Jesus. Take heed then 
often to come together to give thanks unto God, and 
to show forth His praise. For when ye assemble 
frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are 
destroyed, and the destruction he aims at is prevented 
by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious 
than peace, by which all war, both of heavenly and 
earthly things, is prevented." 

A great thought is this, that the union of Christians 
in public worship is their strength and defence, hold- 
ing Satan and all our spiritual enemies aloof, and 
being, as it were, a concentration of the forces of the 
Church against the powers of evil. But lip-service is 
not what Ignatius means, for " as the tree is known 
by its fruit," so Christians by their deeds. What is 
required is not mere profession, but that a man stand 
fast in the power of faith to the end. 

As to the heathen without, meekness would be the 
best argument, prayers in return for blasphemies, 
gentleness for cruelty. " It is better for a man to be 
silent and to be, than to talk and not to be. It is 
good to teach if we do as we speak. One Master 
alone spake and did all, and whatsoever He did in 
silence is worthy of the Father. He who hath the 
Word of Jesus can even understand His silence, that 
He may be perfect, and be known even when He 
speaketh not. There is nothing hid from God. Our 
very secrets are near unto Him." 

Among those great mysteries of God which he has 
spoken of as being in their very silence more eloquent 
than speech, Ignatius numbers the bringing of our 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. ijg 

Lord into the world, which came to pass in such 
awful stillness and reserve. But he adds — 

" How then was He manifested to the world ? A 
star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, 
the light of \rfiich was unspeakable, while its newness 
struck men with wonder. And all ^* rest of the 
stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this 
star, and its light was exceedingly great above them 
all. All things were moved as to whence this great 
sight might be so unlike to anything else Hence every 
kind of magic was destroyed, every bond of wicked- 
ness disappeared, ignorance was removed, and the old 
kingdom abolished, God Himself having been mani- 
fested as Man for the renewing of everlasting life." 

The magic of the great Artemis — "the Ephesian 
letters" — and all the curious arts of the votaries of 
the black idol, are here spoken of as destroyed. 
Already is won the victory of St. Paul and St. John. 
Ignatius ends this letter to the favoured Church of 
Ephesus with the promise of another letter, if pos- 
sible, and entreating that both he himself, and his 
Church in Syria, might be remembered in their 
prayers. 

When he wrote to the Christians who had forsaken 
the worship of Artemis at the great old city of Mag- 
nesia on the Maeander, Ignatius seems to have been 
anxious to strengthen the hands of the young Bishop 
Damas, who had come to him with his priests, Bassus 
and ApoUonius, and his deacon Sotio. 

" It becomes you not," says Ignatius to the 
Magnesians, " to treat your bishop too familiarly on 



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I20 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

account of his youth ; but to yield him all reverence, 
having respect to the power of God the Father^ even 
as I have known even holy priests do, not judging 
rashly by the youthful appearance of their bishop, but 
as being themselves prudent in God, submitting to 
him, or rather not to him, but the Father of jESUS 
Christ, the Bishop of us all. It is therefore fitting 
that ye should in no hypocritical fashion give due 
reverence to your bishop, in honour of Him who has 
willed us to do, since he that does not so act does 
not thus so much deceive the bishop that is visible as 
mock Him who is invisible. All such conduct con- 
cerns not man, but God, who knows all secrets. It is 
fitting then, not, only to be called Christians, but to be 
so in reality, as some call indeed a person bishop, 
but do all things without him. Such persons seem 
not to me to have a good conscience." 

The great argument here, as to the Ephesians, is 
the dependence of communion above upon fellowship 
below. And in like manner follows a warning against 
false teachers, in this case it seems with a special 
reference to the Gnostics, and also to the Judaizers. 
Here follows (but only in the longer and more doubt- 
ful version of the epistle) an explanation of the 
difference between the Christian Lord's Day and the 
Jewish Sabbath : 

*' Those who were bred up in the ancient order of 
things have come to the possession of a new hope, no 
longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the obser- 
vance of the Lord's day, on which also our life has 
sprung up again by Him and by His death." 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT T2I 

The longer (and more doubtful) Greek version adds 
further: "Let us no longer keep the Sabbath after 
the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness, 
• He that does not work, neither let him eat ; ' . . . 
but let every one of you keep the Sabbath after 
a spiritual manner, rejoicing in the meditation of the 
law, not in relaxation of the body." ..." And after 
the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of 
Christ keep the Lord's day as a festival, the Resur- 
rection day, the queen and chief of all the days." 

One longs to believe these glorious words respecting 
our Sunday were those of Ignatius himself; but even 
if they are not, they come from very old times, and 
show what the Church has ever felt as to the Birthday 
of Christ from the dead. 

Tralles, a small insignificant city, had however 
sent her bishop, named Polybius, who testified of 
his flock that they possessed "an unblameable and 
sincere mind," and gave such an account of them 
that Ignatius writes, " Ye appear to me to live not 
after the manner of men, but according to jESUS 
Christ, who died for us." 

The usual exhortations follow to unity, to obedience, 
and to staunchness against those who would make 
tlieir faith an unsubstantial dream — " Stop your ears 
when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus 
Christ, who was descended from David, and was 
also of Mary, who was truly born and did eat and 
drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius 
Pilate. He was truly crucified, and truly died in the 
sight of beings in heaven, on earth, and under the 



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122 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His 
Father quickening Him, even as after the same 
manner Hu Father will so raise up us who believe in 
Him by CHRIST jESUS, apart from whom the life is 
not in us. But if, as some say. He only seemed to 
suffer, ttien why am I in bonds ? Why do I long to 
be exposed to the wild beasts? Do I therefore die in 
vain ? " 

It is St. Paul's argument, " If Christ be not raised, 
if the dead rise not at all, why stand we in jeopardy 
every hour ? " since who would be willing to expose 
himself to shame, torment, and death for a lie and a 
delusion ? 

He thus concludes, "The love of the Smymiotes 
dnd Ephesians salutes you. Remember in your 
prayers the Church which is in Syria, from which 
also I am unworthy to receive my title, as last and 
least of those thereto belonging. Fare ye well in 
Jesus Christ, while ye continue subject to the 
bishop as to the command of God, and in like manner 
to the presbytery. And do ye, every one, love one 
another with a single heart. Let my spirit be sancti- 
fied by yours, not only now, but also when I shall 
attain unto God. For I am not as yet exposed to 
danger. But the Father is faithful in jESUS CHRIST 
to fulfil both your petitions and mine, in whom may 
ye be found unblameable." 

This conclusion is in the usual manner of those of 
the Episcopal letters of the Primitive Church. The 
next IS much more personal. While Ignatius was 
still waiting at Smyrna, some Christians set forth for 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 123 

Rome by a more direct route than that appointed 
for the prisoner, and he therefore sent a letter by 
them to prepare the Romans for his reception — 
thus, like St Paul, writing to the Roman Church 
before he had ever visited it His object seems to 
have been to prevent them from making interces- 
sions to the Emperor, so as to deprive him of the 
crown of martyrdom on which his heart was set 

"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the 
Church visited with mercy, through the majesty of 
the Most High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only- 
begotten Son ; also beloved and enlightened through 
the will of Him that willeth all things which are 
according to the love of JesuS CHRIST our God, pre- 
siding also in the place of the region of the Romans, 
worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the 
highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of ob- 
taining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy, 
ruling over love, named from CHRIST, and from the 
Father, which I also salute in the name of jESUS 
Christ, the Son of the Father : 

" To those who are united, both according to the 
flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments ; 
who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and 
are purified from every strange taint, abundance of 
happiness unblameably in jESUS CHRIST our God : 
By prayer, I have obtained of God that which I 
desired, — namely, to see your most worthy faces, 
and even more than I asked ; for as one in bonds 
for Christ's sake, I hope to embrace you, if that 
grace be given me to persevere unto the end. The 



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124 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

beginning is well-ordered, if I may only receive grace 
to hold fast to my lot, and that nothing should 
hinder me therefrom. For I fear lest your love should 
be hurtful to me ; for it is easy for you to obtain what 
you desire, and hard for me to attain to God, if I be 
spared. I would not please man but God, as ye have 
pleased Him. For I shall never have a more fit 
opportunity of reaching unto God, nor ye, if ye 
remain quiet, ever have the honour of a better work. 
If you speak not concerning me, I shall go to God ; 
but if you love me after the flesh, I shall return to 
the race. You can obtain no greater benefit for me 
than to be offered in sacrifice to God while the altar 
is still ready ; that, when ye are gathered together in 
love, ye may sing praise to the Father, through 
Christ Jesus, that God has vouchsafed to bring a 
Bishop of Syria from the East unto the West It is 
good to set [i.e. like the sun] from the world unto 
God, that I may rise again to Him. 

" Ye have never envied any one ; ye have taught 
others. Now I desire that ye should now show forth 
in your own conduct what ye have enjoined on others. 
Only entreat for me both inward and outward 
strength, that I may not only speak, but will ; and 
that I may not merely be called a Christian, but 
really be found to be one. For if I be truly found 
[a Christian], I may also be called one, and be then 
deemed faithful, when I shall no longer be seen by 
the world. Nothing visible is eternal. 'For the 
things which are seen are temporal, but the things 
which are not seen are eternal.' For even our God, 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE :SA2NT. 125 

Jesus Christ, now that He is with the Father, is all 
the more manifested. Christianity is not a thing of 
opinion only, but also of might. 

" I am writing to all the Churches, and telling them 
that I shall willingly die for God, if ye hinder me not. 
I beseech that you will not unseasonably love me. 
Suffer me to become food for wild beasts. I am God's 
wheat, and need to be ground by the teeth of beasts 
to become a pure loaf of Jesus CHRIST. Caress 
the beasts in hopes that they may become my 
grave, leaving nothing of me to be a care to any 
one. I shall be a disciple of jESUS Christ even 
when the world sees nothing of my body. Pray 
the Lord for me, that I may be a worthy victim. I 
command you not, like Peter and Paul ; they were 
Apostles, I am but a convict ; they were free, I am 
but a slave ; but if I suffer I shall be set free by 
Jesus Christ, who will raise me up to perfect 
liberty. I am learning, in the chains I bear for Him, 
to desire nothing temporal or vain." 

He then goes on to say that "from Syria to 
Rome I am fighting with beasts by sea and land, by 
day and night, being bound to ten leopards — that is, 
a band of soldiers, — ^who become the worse when they 
receive benefits; but these ill-treatments train me 
more and more, yet am not I hereby justified. May 
I delight in those beasts that are prepared for me; 
and I pray that they may devour me speedily, and 
not deal with me as with some others, whom they 
durst not touch ; I would rather force them. Pardon 
me, I know what is for my good Now I begin to be 



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126 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT 

a disciple. No creature, visible nor invisible, can 
hinder me from attaining to CHRIST. Let the fire, 
the cross, troops of beasts, dismemberment of limbs, 
separation of bones, destruction of my whole body, 
the worst torments of the devil, all come upon me, 
so I may win CHRIST. The joys of earth and all the 
kingdoms of the world would profit me nothing. It 
is better to die for jESUS CHRIST than to reign over 
the whole earth. The prince of this world would 
have me, and break my will, which is bound to God. 
Do not you take part with him. 

" All the pleasures of the world, and all the king- 
doms of this earth, profit me nothing. It is better 
for me to die for jESUS Christ than to reign over 
the utmost ends of the earth. ' For what shall a 
man be profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose 
his] own soul?' Him I seek, who died for us: Him 
I desire, who rose again for our sake. This is the 
gain which is laid up for me. Pardon me, brethren : 
do not hinder me from living, do not wish to keep 
me in a dying state; and while I desire to belong 
to God, do not ye give me over to the world. Suffer 
me to enter into pure light When I am come therein, 
I shall indeed be a man of God. Permit me to be a 
follower of the Passion of my God. If any one has 
Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, 
and let him have compassion on me, as knowing how 
I am straitened. 

" The prince of this world would fain carry me 
away, and corrupt my disposition towards God. Let 
none of you help him ; rather be ye on my side, — that 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD^LIKE SAINT. 127 

is, on the side of God. Do not speak of jESUS Christ, 
and yet set your desires on the world. Let not envy 
find a dwelling-place among you. Even should I, 
when I am come among you, seek to persuade you, 
then hearken not unto me, but unto those things which 
I now write to you. For though I am alive while I 
write to you, yet I am eager to die. My love has 
been crucified, and there is no fire in me needing fuel ; 
but there is within me a water that liveth and speaketh, 
saying to me inwardly, ' Come to the Father.' I have 
no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of 
this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly 
bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of jESUS 
Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of 
the seed of David and Abraham ; and I desire the 
drink of God, — namely. His blood, which is incorrup- 
tible love and eternal life. 

" I no longer wish to live after the manner of men. 
neither shall, if ye consent Be ye willing, then, that 
ye also may have your desires fulfilled. I entreat 
you, in this brief letter, give credit to me. jESUS 
Christ will make manifest that I speak truly. He 
is the Mouth altogether free from falsehood, by whom 
the Father has truly spoken. 

** Pray ye for me, that I may reach the goal. I 
have not written to you according to the flesh, but 
a&ording to the will of God. If I suffer, ye will 
have loved me ; if I am rejected, ye will have 
hated me. 

" Remember in your prayers the Church in Syria, 
which now has God for its Shepherd, instead of me. 



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Hk' 



128 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

Jesus Christ alone will oversee it, and your love will 
also regard it But as for me, I am ashamed to be 
counted one of them ; for indeed I am not worthy, as 
being the very last of them, and one born out of due 
time. But I have obtained mercy to be somebody, 
if I shall attain to God. 

" My spirit salutes you, and the love of the Churches 
that have received me in the name of jESUS CHRIST, 
and not as a mere wayfarer. For even those Churches 
which were not near to me in the way — I mean ac- 
cording to the flesh — ^have come out to meet me, 
city by city. 

"Now I write these things to you from Smyrna 
by the Ephesians, who are deservedly most happy. 
There is also with me, along with many others. Crocus, 
one dearly beloved by me. As to those who have 
gone before me, from Syria to Rome, for the glory of 
God, I believe that you are acquainted with them ; 
to whom then do ye make known that I am at 
hand. For they are all worthy, both of God and of 
you ; and it is becoming that you should refresh them 
in all things. I have written these things unto you, 
on the day before the ninth of the kalends of Sep- 
tember [that is, on the twenty-third day of August]. 
Fare ye well to the end, in the patience of jESUS 
Christ. Amen." 

It is hard to the cold hearts and timid nerves of 
our time to enter into this jealous eagerness for 
martyrdom and earnest pleading against being inter- 
ceded for. But in one who, it might be, could recollect 
the Great Sacrifice on the Cross, could look back to the 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 129 

weight and sadness of the desolation of the Passion 
evening, and to the transcendent joy — that no man 
had ever taken from him — ^who from childish, half- 
comprehending awe, had grown each year into deeper 
understanding, fuller participation in, and higher reve- 
rence for, that great oblation — who had watched each 
of his apostolic masters one by one follow in those 
bleeding steps — it was little wonder that longing for 
such a death as the fittest crown for a lifetime of self- 
devotion should be predominant. And be it remem- 
bered that only this joyous hopefulness and eagerness 
for suffering could have borne up the Christians, so 
as to show that glorious example that amazed the 
enemy, and finally conquered. The blood of the 
martyrs would not have been the seed of the Church 
if the martyrs had been merely resigned instead of 
joyful, and the slightest faltering in Ignatius — any 
token of desire to escape — ^would have been the pre- 
lude to multitudes of denials. And with heartfelt 
earnestness he continues to show his satisfaction in 
his present condition and hopes for the future, pro- 
vided the Romans would not inopportunely interfere. 
The day before the kalends of September was the 
last of August, and this was the last on which 
Ignatius should write from Smyrna. The summons 
to embark arrived, and no doubt the bay of Smyrna 
beheld such a parting as St. Paul's had been with his 
beloved Church — when the Christians brought him 
on their way with wives and children, received his 
blessing as they knelt on the sea-shore, watched his 
look full of steadfast joy, and returned sorrowing 

K 



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I30 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT, 



for themselves that they should see that face no 
more. 

Ignatius had known many such partings, but then 
he had been left behind ; now it was he who had the 
joy before him. He went on to the goal ; Polycarp 
must for many a year still toil on in the course. 

Coasting along the shore in the many-oared ancient 
vessel, the next stage of this pilgrimage was Troas, 
whose interest to the Greeks was in the Trojan war, 
while to Ignatius that undulating plain was dear for 
St Paul's sake. Here, while again waiting for a time, 
he received a visit from the Bishop of Philadelphia, 
of whom he says : " At whose meekness I am struck 
with admiration^ and whose silence is more effectual 
than other men's dfecourses." 

An epistle to* the Philadelphian Church, dedicated 
to the Ephesian Burrhus, was the consequence of this 
visit, containing an exhortation as usual to unity, and 
a warning against schism, especially against Judaism. 
" It is better," he says, " to receive Christianity from 
the mouth of one circumcised than Judaism from one 
uncircumcised; but if they speak not of Christ jESUS, 
I look on both as pillars and sepulchres inscribed with 
the names of men." 

It is from this sentence that it has been inferred 
that some of the Jews of Philadelphia had become 
converted, and were now preachers of Christ, whilst, 
on the other hand, some of the Gentile Christians 
were being led away by the followers of Simon Magus 
into a sort of modified Judaism. 

Another letter was written at the same time to the 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 131 

Smymiotes, among whom Ignatius had been sojourn- 
ing. The chief subject of this letter is faith in the 
Resurrection of Christ, and warning against those who 
tried to argue away the miracle, also against those 
who neglected the Holy Eucharist Then follow 
thanks for the hospitality that had been shown to his 
Syrian friends, and an entreaty that a messenger 
should be sent to Antioch to congratulate the Chris- 
tians there on being again at peace. Several salu- 
tations are sent to Smyrniotes, especially to the house 
of Tavias, a woman named Alee, and " the virgins 
who are called widows;" by which are understood 
the deaconesses, who, though never wedded, were 
sheltered by a widow's garb when they went about 
to instruct and cherish the poor. 

Ignatius hoped to have sent like addresses to other 
Churches, but a sudden summons came to him to 
embark for Neapolis, in Macedonia. The great 
Italian feast of the Saturnalia was drawing on, and 
the guards, who had loitered at first, now pressed him 
on, that he might arrive in time for his death to be 
the crowning spectacle to g^ce the Roman holiday. 
He had only time to write a farewell letter to his 
friend and fellow-pupil, Polycarp — ^his Bishop, as he 
greets him, having been so recently dwelling in his 
diocese : 

** Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to Poly- 
carp, JBishop of the Church of the Smymiotes, or 
rather, who has as his own bishop God the Father 
and the Lord jESUS CHRIST. Abundant happiness 
to thee. 

K 2 



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133 IGN Alius, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 



" Being assured that thy mind is fixed on God as on 
an immoveable rock, I glorify Grod the more exceed- 
ingly that I have been counted worthy to see thy 
blameless face, which I longed after. I beseech thee, 
by the grace wherewith thou art clothed, to add 
swiftness to thy race, and ever to exhort all men that 
so they may be saved." 

Much of this letter seems to have been modelled 
upon St. Paul's three apostolical epistles ; and as it 
was to serve as advice to other Bishops, it is full of 
exhortation. There are the like counsels as to the 
manner of dealing with the various members of the 
Church, and in this more familiar letter these maxims 
are cast in short, almost proverbial, sentences : — 

"Watch, as one possessed of the Spirit that 
sleepeth not 

" Speak to each man separately, according to the 
grace that God giveth to thee. 

" Bear the infirmities of all, as a good soldier. 

" When the toil is great, the greater is the gain. 

" If thou love only the good disciples, what thank 
hast thou } but rather endeavour that the refractory 
be subdued by thy gentleness. 

"Every wound cannot be healed by the same 
plaster; therefore pour water upon that which is 
inflamed. 

"Be in all things 'wise as a serpent, harmless as a 
dove.' 

" For this cause art thou formed both of flesh and 
ipirit; that thou mayest deal tenderly with that 
which comes visibly before thee. 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. I33 

" Stand firm as an anvil that is beaten. 

" It beseemeth a good soldier to be wounded and 
to conquer; and we ought especially to bear all 
things for the sake of God, that He also may bear 
with us." 

'* Let not widows be n^lected. Be thou, after the 
Lonl, their guardian and friend. 

"Despise not slaves, neither let them be puffed up 
with conceit, but rather let them be the more obedient, 
for the glory of God, that they may obtain the better 
liberty." 

After thus writing to Polycarp alone, Ignatius pro- 
ceeds to address a few parting counsels to the entire 
Church of Smyrna : — 

" Labour together, struggle together, run together 
suffer together, sleep together, awake together, as the 
stewards and fellow-soldiers and servants of God. 

" Please Him under whom ye fight, and who giveth 
you your wages. 

" Let none be found as a deserter. 

"Let your baptism endure as your armour; your 
faith as your helmet, your love as your spear, your 
patience as a complete panoply. 

"A Christian hath no power over himself, but 
must always be at leisure for God's service." 

" Inasmuch as I have not been able to write to all 
the Churches, because I must suddenly sail from 
Troas to Neapolis as the Will ordains, do thou, as 



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T34 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

being possessed of Divine judgment, write to the 
adjacent Churches, that they may do likewise, such 
as are able, in sending messengers to the others, and 
transmitting letters through those who are sent, that 
thou mayest be glorified by a work which shall be 
remembered for ever, as indeed thou art worthy 
to be." 

This seems to be a handing on of that " care of all 
the Churches " that first St. Paul, then St. John, and 
afterwards Ignatius himself, had exercised by weight 
of inspiration, character, and experience, which made 
them chief authorities over younger bishops. It was 
a presidency that in time became attached to cer- 
tain sees, which were termed Patriarchates, of which 
Ignatius* own Antioch is one, but at this time it 
belonged to men rather than to places. The last 
written words of the saint are : — 

"I salute all by name; in particular the wife of 
Epitropus, with all her house and children. I salute 
Attalus, my beloved. I salute him who shall be 
deemed worthy to go into Syria. Grace shall be 
with him for ever, and with Polycarp that sends him. 
I pray for your happiness for ever in our God, jESUS 
Christ, by whom continue ye in the unity and under 
the protection of God. I salute Alee, my dearly 
beloved. Fare ye well in the Lord." 

Such was the shepherd's song that came cheerily 
to the watchers of the fold of Smyrna — the last of 
tlie letters that have been lianded down by the Greek 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT, 135 

Church, and which cause Ignatius to be counted as 
the first of the Greek Fathers of the Church. None 
of them are argumentative or controversial ; they are 
chiefly full of simple, practical exhortations, taking 
the training of the recipients for granted, and breath- 
ing in every line the child-like love, hope, and reliance 
of the nursling of the Apostles, the pupil of St. John. 

Immediately after, taking St. Paul's own course, 
Ignatius was embarked for Macedonia, and crossing 
the iEgean Sea, landed at Neapolis, and then was 
led by his chained wrists over hill and valley to 
Philippi. 

Full of memories was that city in that rich plain, 
now full of the waving corn and luscious grape. 
There was the river-bank where the few Jews had 
met for prayer, and where Asiatic Lydia had learnt 
to believe. The Philippians, so beloved by St. Paul, 
and the only persons to whom he addressed no word 
of blame, do not seem to have degenerated. They 
welcomed the great companion of the saints with 
reverence, ministered to him during his brief sojourn 
among them, and, when he set forth again, troops of 
them came with him on his way, and one and another 
would try to support and lighten the weight of the 
chains, his much prized jewels. 

Along the paved Roman way he toiled, ever 
seeing the end nearer and brighter, as his pilgrimage 
continued across Macedonia and Epirus to embark at 
Epidamnus. He saw Puteoli, and the last disap- 
pointment of his life was that there was so high a 
wind that he could not be allowed to land there, and 



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136 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

to tread in the very footsteps of St Paul, but that 
he was carried on to the port of Ostia at the mouth 
of the Tiber. 

Here a number of Christians, among them his own 
Syrian friends, came down to meet him, rejoicing at 
the sight of the holy man, and entreating him to kt 
them make intercession for his life ; but he would 
not listen to this, reminding them* of the arguments 
in his letter, and calling on them to kneel down 
with him, and pray for the peace and love of the 
Churches. 

It was the Sigillaria, the last day of the Saturnalia, 
to us the 20th of December, and the guards felt 
bound to hasten on their prisoner to furnish the crown- 
ing diversion of that mad season. Ostia was eighteen 
miles from Rome, and the long march must be made 
along the broad paved road that led towards the 
seven-hilled city, whose horizontal-lined buildings 
began to become visible, as the grave yet scarcely 
sad procession slowly moved onwards, passed on 
their way by many a gay fantastic chariot or litter, on 
the way to the scene of festivity. The inmates — 
perhaps a staid, well-tried old officer ; perhaps a gay 
perfumed youth in Greek garb, with curled locks or in 
some absurd disguise ; or a proud lady, covered with 
jewels and charms, and her hair drawn up and curled 
in imitation of a helmet — ^would look out eagerly, and 
then hasten on to secure their seats in the amphi- 
theatre, before the most interesting part of the games 
should begin. They would be tiiere long before the 
white-haired old Eastern man, chained on either side 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 137 

by the wrist to a soldier, and surrounded by a crowd of 
grave men and women, chiefly workmen and slaves 
set free from toil by the festival, dark Orientals, be- 
lieving Jews who had found the true Jerusalem, fair- 
haired Goths and Celts, once slaves, now truly free ; 
and no doubt with many a brave soldier, and more 
than one high-bred noble mingling among them, all 
anxious in turn to hear one of the valiant hopeful 
words, or win a personal blessing from the firm, sweet 
voice of him who was that day the happiest man at 
the feast of the Sigillaria. 

Beneath the gate they passed, and here the crowd 
grew thicker and madder. The street was lined with 
booths, where were sold little grotesque absurd figures 
in shapes compounded of human and animal forms, 
which were called sigillcBy and gave their name to the 
day ; and little children, the boys in white dresses, with 
a golden ball hung round their necks, under the care 
of their pedagogue slaves, turned round as they bar- 
2^ained for the toys, to wish themselves in the amphi- 
theatre. Other booths displayed wax tapers, with which 
at night everybody would be armed, madly trying to 
put out their neighbour s and keep their own lighted ; 
and all the street was full of figures disguised in loose 
robes, and with broad, shady, low-crowned hats drawn 
low over their brows, or in more fantastic shapes, wear- 
ing comic masks or the heads of animals, and darting 
hither and thither, playing the most fantastic tricks. 
It was the day of universal frolic and licence, the 
maddest, merriest day of all the year ; and the evening 
was to end by each party choosing a mock king, who 



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138 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

was to lead their revels and freaks to the drollest 
heights. 

Through all this reckless mirth, the soldiers cleared 
the way for their prisoner. Outside the walls he had 
looked on the great family mausoleums of the Romans; 
within, on the slopes of the Aventine, which bore colon- 
naded temples, two in especial to the Bona Dea and 
to Diana. Statues of the gods were set out in the 
porticoes to do honour to the day, and would seem to 
the Christian troop tokens of more entire death than 
even the monuments outside. All the buildings were 
flat — nothing seemed to rise and aspire to heaven ; 
they were grand, majestic, costly, but heavy and de- 
pressing. Only in the Forum, on the other side of 
the thickly-inhabited Palatine Hill, was rising one 
tall column, spirally decorated with sculptures of all 
Trajam's exploits. Little thought Ignatius that one 
day that column would be surnjounted by the figure 
of St. Paul. 

He was now on the Triumphal Way, the broad street 
where the conqueror's chariot was woat to be drawn 
by white horses ; but never yet had so real a victor * 
gone to his triumph along that patih of glory, never 
one wh5se crown was so incorruptible, never one to 
whom the slave's whisper that he must die was the 
veritable note of glory. 

Full in the midst, confi-ontimg the prisoner, stood 
a colossal statue, 112 feet high, in marble, made at 
first to represent Nero, the slayer of St. Paul, but 

* The scene of the entrance and execution of St. Paul was *in another 
direction. 



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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 139 

since converted by a few touches into Apollo, the 
god of the sun and poetry. Beyond this colossus lay 
the great Flavian Amphitheatre, called from it the 
Colosseum ; and here closed the procession. The 
Roman Christians received the blessing from him in 
whose presence they had rejoiced with deep reverent 
awe for those eighteen miles ; Burrhus, Agathocles and 
Crocus, had his last embrace, and with his own Syrian 
friends took their leave of him ; and he was admitted 
with his guard at one of the low dark archways in 
the basement of the building. Such of the followers 
as could procure seats, crowded up the stairs and 
vaulted corridors to the places to which their station 
gave them a right. They were of the old Roman 
mould, albeit Christians, and shrinking nerves would 
not withhold them from the sight of the good confes* 
sion witnessed by the holy man of Antioch. 

It must by this time have been late in the day, 
but such spectacles were at this period rare, and being 
the strangest of all, wene reserved for the last. The 
prefect read the letter given him by the soldiers; 
fresh sand was strewn over the arena that had been 
the scene of the combats of the gladiators, and the 
martyr was led forth into the vast glittering space, 
around which rose on all sides the sloping hill of 
eager faces, tier behind tier. In the dens beneath 
were heard the growls and roars of hungry lions, and 
Ignatius broke out with that favourite thought of 
his : " I am the Lord's wheat I must be ground by 
the teeth of beasts to become the pure bread of 
Jesus Christ." 



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HO IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

As he spoke, out bounded two fierce lions and fell 
on him. One* who has actually lain in a lion's 
grasp has told us that the numbing, lulling effect 
deprives it of the anguish one would have expected 
from it, and at any rate Ignatius' struggle was very 
brief — in a few seconds the lions had left no remnant 
of him but a few of his larger bones. 

The Christians went to their homes, weeping and 
praying, entreating to be comforted for their loss 
by some token of the joy of the sufferer ; and there 
were some among them who, when they fell asleep> 
believed that they beheld the martyr in his glory. 
We give the concluding words of their own letter : — 

" They pushed forth therefore from the place whicli 
is called Portus ; and (the fame of all relating to the 
holy martyr being already spread abroad) we met the 
brethren full of fear and joy ; rejoicing indeed because 
they were thought worthy to meet with Theophorus, 
but struck with fear because so eminent a man was 
being led to death. Now he enjoined some to keep 
silence who, in their fervent zeal, were saying that 
they would appease the people, so that they should 
not demand the destruction of this just one. He 
being immediately aware of this through the Spirit, 
and having saluted them all, and begged of them to 
show a true affection towards him, and having dwelt 
[on this point] at greater length than in his epistle^ 
and having persuaded them not to envy him has- 
tening to the Lord, then, after he had, with all 
the brethren kneeling, entreated the Son of God in 
• Dr. Livingstone 



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!• 






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IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-UKE SAINT. 141 

behalf of the Churches, that a stop might be put to 
the persecution, and that mutual love might continue 
among the brethren, he was led with all haste into the 
amphitheatre. Then, being immediately thrown in, 
according to the command of Caesar given some time 
ago, the public spectacles being just about to close 
(for it was then a solemn day, as they deemed it, 
being that which is called the thirteenth in the Roman 
tongue, on which the people were wont to assemble 
in more than ordinary numbers), he was thus cast to 
the wild beasts close beside the temple, that so by 
them the desire of the holy martyr Ignatius should 
be fulfilled, according to that which is written, * The 
desire of the righteous is acceptable,' to the effect 
that he might not be troublesome to any of the 
brethren by the gathering of his remains, even as he 
had in his epistle expressed a wish beforehand that 
so his end might be. For only the harder portions 
of his holy remains were left, which were conveyed 
to Antioch and wrapped in linen, as an inestimable 
treasure left to the holy Church by the gfrace which 
was in the martyr. 

"Now these things took place on the thirteenth 
day before the kalends of January, — ^that is, on the 
twentieth of December ; Sura and Senecio being then 
the consuls of the Romans for the second time. 
Having ourselves been eye-witnesses of these things, 
and having spent the whole night in tears within the 
house, and having entreated the Lord, with bended 
knees and much prayer, that He would give us weak 
men full assurance respecting the things which were 



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142 IGNATIUS, THE CHILD-LIKE SAINT. 

done, it came to pass, on our falling into a brief 
slumber, that some of us saw the blessed Ignatius 
suddenly standing by us and embracing us, while 
others beheld him again praying for us, and others 
still saw him dropping with sweat, as if he had just 
come from his great labour, and standing by the 
Lord. When, therefore, we had with great joy wit- 
nessed these things, and had compared our several 
visions together, we sang praise to God, the Giver of 
all good things, and expressed our sense of the hap- 
piness of the holy martyr ; and now we have made 
known to you both the day and the time [when these 
things happened], that, assembling ourselves together 
according to the time of his martyrdom, we may have 
fellowship with the champion and noble martyr of 
Christ, who trod under foot the devil, and perfected 
the course which, out of love to Christ, he had de- 
sired, in Christ Jesus our Lord ; by whom, and with 
whom, be glory and power to the Father, with the 
Holy Spirit, for evermore. Amen." 

In such honour was Ignatius held at Antioch, that 
even now, when the Christians there are divided by a 
schism, the head of the Monophysite, or schismatical 
branch of them, always takes, on his appointment, the 
revered name of Ignatius.* 

* The date of the martyrdom has been regarded as uncertain. Most 
Christian histories place it as early aa 107, but Trajan's visit to Antioch 
took place in 115, so that this is more probably the time of it It is 
also said that the earthquake of Antioch immediately followed the 
condemnation; but it is far more probable that the "ringleader of 
the sect of the Nazarenes" would be sacrificed to appease the terrified 
people, who thought the gods offended by the desertion of their altars. 



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CHAPTER IX. 

THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 

** His chamber all was hanged about with rolls, 
And old records from auncient times derived ; 
Some made in books, some in long parchment scrolls 
That were worm-eaten all and full of canker holes." 

Spenser, 754^ Faety Queene, 

Before passing further in our history, it may be well 
to dwell on the many doubts and difficulties that have 
hung round the seven beautiful Letters that we have 
quoted. 

Each of the greater lights among the holy men of 
the Primitive Church seems either to have written with 
his own hand, or caused his young deacons and scribes 
to write from his dictation, letters to the Christians 
of the other cities commended to his notice : these were 
transcribed by Christian copyists, and handed about 
either privately or openly, according to the danger of 
the times. Sometimes the Christians were required 
to give up their books. Then they would hide the 
more sacred, and allow those of lesser value to be 
seized ; and in many cases large numbers of manu- 
scripts were entirely lost Those which stood in the 



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144 • THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 

highest esteem were copied and re-copied, and at 
length, when monasteries began to be founded, were 
placed in their libraries ; but this was not till more 
than three centuries later, and in the meantime many 
books had been lost, and many more again perished in 
the desolation of the break-up of the Roman empire, 
or by the carelessness of the monks who had the 
custody of them. Thus there are numerous authors 
who are only known through fragments quoted by 
others, or even merely by name. 

Ignatius, it will be observed, speaks of an intention 
to write further letters, which was probably pre- 
vented by the suddenness with which his long-delayed 
martyrdom came at last. Such a sentence was, how- 
ever, almost an invitation to the forgeries that were 
scarcely considered as deceits, until a comparatively 
recent period. It seems to have been thought that 
so long as the contents of a book were good or beau- 
tiful, it did not matter who wrote it, or whether it 
represented the original thoughts of the author. 
Moreover, when every work was transcribed by hand, 
it was entirely at the mercy of the scribe, who might 
be either stupid, careless, or conceited ; and while in 
the former cases he made errors, in the latter he 
would put in what he thought the author ought to 
have said, either by way of ornament or explanation. 
Sometimes, also, a great name was appended to 
writings entirely spurious, especially when there was 
reason to think that any analogous composition had 
once existed and had been lost. 

The Jews, who alone had possessed writings that it 



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THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 145 

was of vital importance to preserve, had guarded them 
by making it an absolute crime to deviate by one "jot 
or tittle " from the most precise imitation of the ori- 
ginal Hebrew manuscript, and thus the Holy Scrip- 
ture was guarded from any really serious variation. 
Yet among the Greek Jews there were some persons 
who added chapters, or wrote in great names of old. 
Thus we find three chapters added to the prophecy 
of Daniel, many passages to the history of Esther, 
and the whole Book of Wisdom, bearing the name of 
Solomon ; but the providential care exercised over 
the Hebrew Scriptures has enabled the faithful from 
the first to sever between the genuine work of inspi- 
ration and these additions, which were placed among 
the writings called the Apocrypha. 

Christians in like manner guarded the Apostolic 
books, which the guidance of the Holy Spirit taught 
them from the first to hold sacred above others that 
seemed to knock at the door of the sacred treasure- 
house, and yet not be admitted for want of the ring 
of the true metal. Such was an epistle claiming to 
be by St. Paul to the Laodiceans ; another professing 
to be by St. Barnabas, but confuting its high claim by 
its own internal evidence ; and one really written by 
St Paul's pupil, Clement of Rome, beautiful, wise, 
excellent, but not inspired. 

If such were the perils that surrounded the Holy 
Word itself, far greater were the difficulties in pre- 
serving intact the works of men, holy indeed, but 
without that wonderful salt of life that has guarded 
the veritable work of inspiration. The habit of read- 

L 



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146 THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 

ing these epistles aloud in the devotional assemblies 
of the Church, like a sort of sermon, would increase 
the temptation to put in touches to render them more 
effective, instructive, or comprehensible. So it came 
to pass, that not only were there extant five epistles 
falsely ascribed to Ignatius — including one to the 
Blessed Virgin herself, and another to St John, three 
of them only in a Latin translation, and all showing 
in every line that they were mere fancy compositions 
of a late period — ^but that of the real seven epistles 
there were two Greek copies, one much longer than 
the other, and, though agreeing with it in the main, 
amplifying most of the maxims, and enforcing them 
with a crowd of Scripture quotations and examples 
from both Old and New Testaments. 

Till within the last four centuries, men were content 
to drift onwards, accepting what was good or edifying 
as such, without curiously scanning the authority on 
which they received it ; but when controversy began, 
and each party appealed to antiquity, it became 
necessary to know what antiquity really said ; and 
there were some who considered that the manifestly 
spurious five, as well as the double version of the 
seven, proved that all alike were the produce of 
fraud or error ; while other scholars were willing to 
give up the five and the interpolations of the longer 
version, but held fast by the shorter seven, as the 
actual words of the pupil of St. John. 

One argument used by the incredulous was, that 
the epistles use strong language in condemnation of 
doctrines that are not known to have been rife in the 



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THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 147 

time of Ignatius ; but to this it would be replied, that 
he might probably have watched the beginnings of 
evils that did not come to a head until long after. 
Another point, and that which made the question 
especially pressing, was that the letters strongly 
enforce submission to the Bishop of each Church, 
treating such obedient harmony as the very token 
and means of union with the great Head of the 
Church. But some of those bodies of Christians who 
since the Reformation had dispensed with episcopal 
government, deemed the system a growth later than 
the second century ; and instead of admitting this 
testimony to the primitive existence of the hierarchy, 
declared that it proved that the documents them- 
selves were a fabrication of a later period ; while, on 
the other hand, the language of the letters seemed 
only natural and befitting in the eyes of those who 
regarded bishops as the direct successors of the 
Apostles and channels of grace. 

The English Church of the seventeenth century 
was especially anxious on this head James Usher, 
Archbishop of Armagh, and one of the most learned 
men our country ever produced, was especially earnest 
in the study of such Eastern literature as might 
elucidate both the Holy Scripture and early Church 
history. Every possible assistance was given him 
by Government, and it was even enjoined that 
every captain of a ship who made a voyage to the 
Levant should bring home some manuscript with 
him. Most of them brought the Koran, as the 
easiest to come by ; but some precious works were 

L2 



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148 THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 

obtained by this means, though nothing throwing 
light on the Ignatian controversy. A clergyman 
named Robert Huntington, who was chaplain to the 
British merchants at Aleppo, was eagerly interested in 
the research for something that might throw light upon 
the "Ignatian controversy/' and wrote many letters 
to Greek ecclesiastics, especially to the superiors of 
the old monasteries, which had been mostly founded 
in the fourth and fifth centuries; and, standing in 
the midst of desolate wildernesses, or perched on the 
summit of nearly inaccessible precipices, had for ages 
defied the Mahometan violences, and had never failed 
to be supplied with monks from the scattered Chris- 
tian population. Among the rolls of parchment stored 
in the strongest towers of their buildings, even from 
the time of their foundation, there must surely be 
some Greek or Syriac version of the epistles, which 
would prove the question of their authenticity, and 
old catalogues made it certain that such writings had 
once existed. 

But since the Eastern Christians had fallen under 
the Turkish power, they had been poor and oppressed, 
and life had become so difficult to them that the 
original keenness and vigour of the Greek mind had 
either passed away, or only was exercised on matters 
of buying and selling. The monks came from a hard- 
worked, ignorant race of people, and their minds 
were sound asleep ; the stores in their libraries had no 
interest for them, and though venerated for their age, 
the sacredness of their subjects, and the holiness of 
their writers, were unopened, unread, not distinguished 



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THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 149 

from one another, and forgotten, so that it was with 
great difficulty that Mr. Huntington could obtain the 
scantiest information. 

One convent, however, afforded good hopes. It was 
at Nitria, in Egypt, an oasis in the desert on the left 
bank of the west branch of the Nile. Here lies a 
valley surrounding lakes impregnated with natron, a 
native salt or soda, anciently used for making soap, 
and once supposed to be the same as nitre, which 
takes its name from this place, which forms a green, 
well-watered spot in the deserts of Egypt. Scarcely 
fifty years after the death of Ignatius, Christians who 
thought to escape the evil of the world themselves, 
as well as to intercede for their brethren, by uninter- 
rupted prayer, had begun to seek out this solitude, 
and dwelt there in small separate huts, only uniting 
for common prayer. They are said to have preferred 
the Nitrian valley because of the words of Jeremiah 
— " though thou wash thee with nitre ; " — and as this 
longing for incessant devotion spread among the 
Eastern Christians, their numbers increased, so that 
in the early part of the fifth century there were 
actually five thousand of these monks, living no 
longer in separate huts, but in many different build- 
ings, where, however, each made a solitude for him- 
self by silence, except at stated times. At one time, 
it is said, there were no less than three hundred and 
sixty-six monasteries in the valley. Their church 
and their library they had in common, and, as many 
of them were studious men, there was a great reposi- 
tory of Christian literature among them. The chief 



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ISO THE STORY OF THE EPJSTLES. 

of their monasteries was called by their Latin visitors 
that of "St. Mary Deipara," ie. the Mother of God ; 
and the whole valley took the name of Scete, or of 
the Ascetics. Another adjacent monastery was 
named after St. Macarius, one of the first of the 
hermit saints of Egypt, and the pride of the valley 
was, and still is^ a beautiful tamarind-tree, which is 
said to have grown out of the staff of St. Ephrem 
which he planted in the sand. 

When the Mahometans conquered Egypt, they at 
first spared the monks, because they had a respect 
for the stem hermit life of devotees of all kinds ; but 
after a time they fell upon Nitria, plundered, de- 
stroyed, and sold many of the monks for slaves. 
Still the hermits returned, and at last permission was 
gained to surround the convents with a high wall, to 
secure them from the attacks of the wandering Arabs 
in the desert. From this time they seem to have 
afforded a secure refuge to the monks, and likewise 
to the manuscripts, which were collected from both 
Syria and Egypt as a welcome gift and precious 
charge for the recluses. 

From time to time reports reached Europe of 
the wealth of sacred literature here stored up, and 
Robert Huntington, who had left home whilst Arch- 
bishop Usher and Bishop Pearson were diligently 
investigating the Ignatian Epistles, accomplished a 
journey from Aleppo to Nitria, in hopes of there 
finding the much-desired Syrian copy. Though 
facilities for European travellers in the East were 
much fewer in the year 1679 than at present, Mr. 



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THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 151 

Huntington reached Nitria, and saw the monks ; but 
they could not understand the object of their visitor, 
and probably feared him, for at St. Mary Deipara 
they refused to let him into their library, and only 
allowed him to see one grand manuscript of the 
Bible ; nor would they (nor perhaps could they) even 
tell him whether they possessed a Syrian copy of 
the letters of Ignatius. The books which he collected 
from other sources are now in the Bodleian Library 
at Oxford. He afterwards became Bishop of Raphoe. 
Some thirty years after, a learned Syrian, named 
Elias Assemani, was sent from Rome, by Pope 
Clement XI., and being better understood by the 
Nitrians, was shown by them a cellar, or cave, 
filled with manuscripts, which they avowed them- 
selves to be unable to read. He persuaded them 
to sell him forty, and conveyed them to Rome, in 
spite of their being once all submerged in the Nile 
on their way. But as it is very difficult to obtain 
leave to study in the Vatican library, and copying 
is never permitted, no great benefit has accrued 
to the world from their presence there. Other 
travellers obtained the certainty that these monas- 
teries contained most precious stores, which the 
monks were allowing to decay, tearing up and ruin- 
ing by neglect, but which they valued in proportion 
to the curiosity evinced about them by travellers, 
refusing to sell them at any price, though their 
own Patriarch gave them permission, and represented 
that they might thus obtain the means of repairing 
their broken and ruined buildings. At last, in 1838 



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152 THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 

an English clergyman, Archdeacon Tattam,* hearing 
that the determination of the monks was beginning 
to yield, set forth for the valley of Nitria, and found 
that the monks, though at first denying that they 
possessed any such books, might be dealt with so as 
to part with such as had not in the first page an 
imprecation from the donor against any who should 
dispose of them. 

He was admitted into a dark, vaulted room, the 
whole floor covered with leaves of books, in which he 
waded about with a taper in one hand, and a stick 
to stir them in the other ! Thus having gained 
permission of the Patriarch of Egypt, and even the 
influence of a desert sheikh, he succeeded in pur- 
chasing and carrying off* in a bag on the backs of don- 
keys, from this and the other monasteries, a number 
of old Syrian manuscripts, forty of which are now in 
the British Museum. They were carefully examined 
by Mr. Cureton, who found among them three of the 
much-desired Syriac letters of St. Ignatius ! It 
appeared at first as if a difficulty existed, as far as 
r^arded these three, — namely, those to Polycarp, to 
Ephesus, and to the Romans; but on inspection it 
proved that these three were very much shorter than 
even the Greek version accepted by scholars, and, 
though agreeing with them in the main, were like 
a very brief abstract of them. 

Some hold that the three short Syriac are the only 
genuine ones. Others regard them as abridgments 
of the shorter Greek, and thus confirmations of their 

* Deceased since these pages were penned. 



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THE STORY OF THE EPISTLES. 153 

existence at a very early period, and others continue 
to view the whole as unauthentic. 

Such is the doubt in which it is the lot of mankind 
usually to be left, when very great stringency of proof 
is demanded for what, in the nature of things, can 
often not be closely traced out Altogether, however, 
the consent of the most learned scholars and divines 
has accepted the shorter Greek version as the pro- 
bable reality, and as the legacy to the Christian world 
left by the martyred pupil of St. John. 

Therefore it is from thence that the quotations 
given in the last chapter have been taken, with the 
exception of that beautiful description of the Lord's 
Day, which is only to be found in the longer Greek, 
and is an amplification of the brief counsel in the 
shorter version. 



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CHAPTER X. 

THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 

" Reft of thy sons, amid thy foes forlorn, 
Mourn, widow'd queen ; forgotten Zion, mourn. 
Is this thy place and city, this thy throne. 
Where the wild desert rears its craggy stone ; 
Where suns unblest their angry lustre fling, 
And wajrwom pilgrims seek the scanty spring ? 
Where now thy pomp, which kings with envy view'd ? 
Where now thy might, which all those kings subdued ?" 

Bishop Heber, Palestine, 

Among the disdples of St. John must not only be 
reckoned those Syrian Greeks among whom the latter 
years of his life were passed, and who appear to have 
imbibed th^ most of his spirit. 

His first teaching had been among those " of the 
circumcision," the Jews, and apparently the Parthians, 
and the account of his pupils would not be complete 
if we did not follow the history of the generation 
among whom his teaching was fresh, although in 
some cases it was rejected and in others perverted. 

When the signs and warnings, foretold by our 
Lord, had begun to gather around Jerusalem, the 
Christians, as has been already said, had left the 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST 155 

doomed city, and taken up their abode in Pella, one 
of the many towns that then studded the beautiful 
mountainous country on the other side of the river 
Jordan, under the guidance of their bishop, Symeon, 
a son of Cleophas, and thus of the seed of David. 

Though they had lost the temple, and the purpose 
of their ceremonies had passed away, like the dawn in 
the daylight, yet these fugitives could not bear to lay 
aside their old customs : they still circumcised their 
children; rested on the Sabbath, or seventh day; 
abstained from the food proscribed by Moses ; held 
aloof from the Gentiles, and kept up all the rites that 
were possible in their exiled state. When the Roman 
armies had finished their work of ruin, a number of 
these ventured to cross the river, creep back to the 
desolate Zion, where the marble walls, the majestic 
towers, the stupendous stairs lay black with fire, and 
piled over many a skeleton; and there, amid the 
ruins, they heaped up huts for themselves, and once 
more set up a lowly Church on Mount Zion — the spot 
to which they could not cease to apply the literal 
fulfilment of all the great prophecies that had been 
the dream of every son of Judah. No wonder that 
these, though aware that their Messiah was come, still 
looked to see the mountain of the Lord's house made 
glorious, and all nations flowing unto it with gifts 
in their hands, and thence receiving the blessings 
showered on them by their Redeemer, on His own 
nation first of all. They were slow of heart to com- 
prehend what had been perceived by the greater and 
wider souls among their people — tliat the husk was 



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156 THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 

burst by the growing tree ; that the special privilege 
of Israel had been forfeited or deferred; that the 
covenant of Mount Sinai was at an end, and the 
covenant of Abraham was alone in force ; or that the 
true Jerusalem, the mother of all, is on no earthy- 
spot, but in heaven above. 

Because St. Paul had been the foremost in setting 
forth these truths there were some among the Jewish 
Christians who slighted his teaching, and would 
scarcely acknowledge him as even of their own blood 
while they set up in opposition; St. John, St. Peter, 
and St James, blind apparently to the full and true 
accordance of all the three, and specially blind, both 
to the charity of the Apostle of Love, and to the 
spiritual majesty of that mystical Jerusalem that he 
had beheld and described. 

Such feelings necessarily gave rise to divisions, and 
two sects arose among these Judaizers, the Nazarenes 
(a name given by the heathen in scorn to the whole 
body of Christians) and the Ebionites. The first 
were superstitious adherents to the narrowest rule of 
the old law ; the others — called from a Syriac word 
for poverty — ^while exalting our Lord as the Son of 
David, denied that He was the Son of God. Some 
of their errors seem to have been pointed at by St. 
Ignatius in his epistles. 

But the Christians of Pella had not been the only 
fugitives. Such of the Jews as were not maddened 
by the wild expectations of the Zealots, — and of these 
there must have been many, especially among the 
shrewd men of business and the politic Sadducees, — 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 157 

saw the worldly and natural tokens of ruin; and, 
leaving the city at the same time with the Christians, 
made their peace with the Romans, and found a 
home at the city of Tiberias, on the shores of the 
Lake of Gennesareth, under the government of their 
own old Sanhedrim. Of these there were large 
numbers, who at length accepted the teaching which 
had once hallowed that lake ; but many more ad- 
hered to the old Law, and continued to watch for a 
future Messiah. 

Among these rabbis of Tiberias were some very 
remarkable men ; but the Jewish accounts are so 
much mixed with fable, that it is not easy to do more 
than distinguish a few great names. Eliezer the Great 
and Akiba are the two most noted of these. The 
former seems, according to the Jews themselves, to 
have resembled the Pharisee in the Temple, for he 
exclaimed, "What precept of the Law have I not 
observed ? " to which his pupil, Akiba, answered, 
** Sir, you have always taught us that there is not a 
man on earth who is just and sinless." 

Akiba, who was said to have been bom while 
Jerusalem was still standing, and to have lived to the 
age of a hundred and twenty, has an almost all^o- 
rical history, in which he is represented as wooing a 
maiden who required of him wisdom, knowledge, and 
a crowd of disciples. He left her, to fulfil her behest ; 
and when he returned, he found her ragged, outcast, 
beggared ; but still his beautiful bride, the author of 
his inspiration. This was a parable of Jerusalem, for 
whose sake he toiled, and to whom he was still 



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T58 THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST 

devoted, even in her ruined state. The Law was the 
constant study of these rabbis, and they put on it 
many fresh, strange, and wild interpretations, which 
worked up the minds of their disciples into a feverish 
state of hope. 

Nor were all the Jewish nation crushed. Only 
those who had been in open arms against Rome had 
been made slaves or put to death. Many more lived 
at large in wealth and freedom in Egypt, where they 
had had a temple ever since the beginning of the per- 
secution of Antiochus; there were many others in 
Cyrene and in Spain, and great multitudes dwelt in the 
far East, where they had been settled centuries ago, in 
the time of the old captivities. The great river cities — 
Babylon, damp, decayed, unhealthy, yet still showing 
her solid Chaldean magnificence in her decline; Seleu- 
cia, splendid and flourishing, with the profuse luxuriant 
ornament of the Oriental Greek, but waning before 
the more native Eastern quaint glories of Ctesiphon 
on the opposite bank of the Tigris — all swarmed with 
busy Jews, as merchants, craftsmen, or sailors in the 
vessels that brought Indian gold, jewels, silk, and 
spices, to be dispersed through the West: the rich 
well-watered ground around the two mighty rivers 
was owned by many a Jew, who among his com, his 
vines, and his melons, still thought at times upon 
Zion as he looked at the weeping willows, among 
which more earnest-hearted exiles had once hung 
their harps ; and the green valleys, and wild slopes 
of the long barrier of mountains beyond, fed flocks 
of sheep and goats, that were watched by shepherds 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 159 

descended probably from the old pastoral tribes, 
whose cattle had been their delight and wealth. Over 
all these ruled a stately personage, who was waited 
upon with the observances befitting an Oriental po- 
tentate, and was known as the Resch Glutha, or Chief 
of the Captivity; and though he paid tribute and 
owned the superiority of the Parthian king, it was 
not an unwilling submission; for the Persians of old, 
ever since the time of Cyrus, had been the friends of 
the Jews, and the Parthian power that sprang up as 
the Greek house of Seleucus decayed, might be re- 
garded as in some degree a revival of the old Persian 
sway, though their blood was partly Scythian. 

Thus it was, that no less than five of the Apostles 
seem to have made Parthia and Mesopotamia their 
first starting-points, finding there great numbers of 
the Jews, and founding a Church there, to which, as 
we have seen, St. John addressed his first epistle. 
Some are said to have met their death there ; and St. 
Thomas thence journeyed on to India, while St. John 
returned westwards ; but the Church flourished for 
many years there, and the Jewish community was 
prosperous, wealthy, and exceedingly learned. 

Any hopes that could be reasonably entertained 
of a renewal of Jerusalem must be founded on the 
Parthians, a young, vigorous power, by whom Roman 
armies had more than once been brought to a miser- 
able end, and who were quite as averse as the Jews 
themselves to the pagan multiplicity of idols. Their 
borders were gradually extending, and, could they 
but master the strip of land beyond the two mighty 



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i6o THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 

boundary streams, Jerusalem would become as ex- 
cellent a curb as they could desire upon the Roman 
power. Even Khoosrou, the real name of Cyrus, began 
to be revived among their kings, as if in augury of a 
new shepherd and deliverer, from the East. 

But a great disappointment was coming. Trajan, 
when he visited Antioch and sentenced Ignatius, was 
actually on his way with a large army to attack the 
Parthians, and his success was complete. He drove 
them far back into their hills, and actually marched 
into and garrisoned the great cities of Mesopotamia ; 
so that the Eastern Jews saw the hated eagles set up on 
the towers of the home of their exile ! The Emperor 
was indeed an aged man, and his health was warning 
him to go no further ; so that he made a sort of peace, 
placed a Parthian prince of his own choice on the 
throne, and retreated ; but he left garrisons behind 
him, claimed Mesopotamia as tributary, and showed 
that the Roman wolf had set his claw upon the oldest 
cities of the world. 

Despair and grief stirred up the Jews to revolt, and 
there was a terrible outbreak, not only in newly 
conquered Mesopotamia, but in Egypt, Cyrene, and 
Cyprus, where the insurgents, possessed by the same 
spirit as the Zealots of Jerusalem, committed unspeak- 
able barbarities upon the population, and they de- 
stroyed a little shrine at the foot of Mount Casius, in 
honour of Pompey, the first Roman who had begun 
to rivet the yoke of iron on their neck, that Moses 
had foretold two thousand years ago. Trajan 
promptly took measures against them, and punished 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. i6i 

the Egyptian Jews, by depriving them of their 
temple; and he also made diligent inquiry whether 
any remnant of the royal line existed round whom 
they could rally. It seems to have been this that 
directed the attention of the Romans to Symeon, 
who was martyred at this time and was succeeded by 
Justus, also a son of David. 

The revolt was by no means subdued when Trajan, 
worn out with fatigue, and by the illness he had con- 
tracted on the fatal banks of the Euphrates, died in 
Cilicia, in 117, and left his empire to his adopted son, 
Publius iElius Hadrianus. 

Had not the Jews been committing atrocities in 
Cyrene that turned all minds against them, they 
might have had good prospects under Hadrian, who 
was a great inquirer, had studied the Scriptures, and 
had been sufficiently struck with their force and 
beauty to make some hopeful Jews deem him a 
proselyte. 

But, in the present state of affairs, he could only 
strike at the rebels, and his knowledge of their 
religion, perhaps, enabled him to do so more effec- 
tually. He gave up the three tempting Babylons, 
aware that the broad line of desert between them and 
Syria made them a too perilous possession for his 
Western soldiery to hold ; but he utterly ruined the 
once wealthy Jews of Egypt, destroyed their temple, 
and took away their privileges ; and in Cyrene his 
vengeance was such, that at the end of tJie war the 
province was so empty that it had to be repeopled. 
But he strengthened his grasp upon Palestine, and 

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l62 THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 

sent his general, Martius Turbo, to quell the insur- 
rection. 

Turbo saw with amazement both the multitude 
and the courage of the warriors in the gorges of the 
mountains, but a great concentration of Roman forces 
obliged them to become quiescent, and peace was 
restored. 

Hadrian decided on curbing them further, by 
entirely Romanizing the remains of Jerusalem, and 
even changing its name. A city called after himself, 
iElia Capitolina, was to be reared upon the hill of 
Zion, and filled with Greek and Latin colonists. 
Mount Moriah's mighty stones were again built up, 
but the temple that towered above the marble stairs 
was dedicated to Jupiter of the Capitol, and over the 
gate of the city the figure of a hog was carved, as 
an insult to the Jews, who retorted, with some truth, 
that the unclean animal was a most suitable emblem, 
of the foul habits of the colonists themselves. On 
Mount Calvary, close to the sepulchre that had once 
held the body of our Blessed Lord, another temple 
was built, to the goddess Venus ; and thus the Chris- 
tians were equally grieved with the Jews by the 
desecration of their most revered spot; but it does 
not seem certain that this was an intentional insult. 

This building of -^lia stung the hearts of the Jews 
with the bitterest grief ; and moreover, the presence of 
so many soldiers in the land led to heavy exactions and 
severe distress. All over the empire the Jews had to 
pay a tribute, such as might keep them in poverty, 
and so many trades were closed against them, that 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 163 

they were reduced to telling dreams and fortunes. 
The failing heart and trembling arm had come on 
those who were dispersed in distant parts of the 
empire, and, on the testimony of the poet Juvenal 
and the Emperor Hadrian himself, they were esteemed 
in Egypt as no better than conjurers, beggars, and 
mathematicians ! For those who were really men of 
science were forced to gain their bread by the pre- 
tended arts that pleased the vulgar and brought their 
knowledge into contempt among wise men. Still it 
seems that in Smyrna, the Jewish community con- 
tinued numerous, wealthy, and unmolested, owing 
probably to their usefulness in trade. 

In the mountains of Galilee, however, a fiercer 
spirit prevailed, ripening fast for revolt, and Jewish 
legends relate that the first spark was lighted in this 
manner. It was the Jewish custom on the birth of a 
son to plant a cedar before the house ; on the birth 
of a daughter, a pine ; and such trees were never cut 
until the young owner was married, ,when it was used 
to form the woodwork of the bed. A Roman lady, 
whom the Jews call the Emperor's daughter — but 
this could not be, as Hadrian was childless — when 
travelling, caused one of these trees to be cut 
down to repair her litter, and the tumult this occa- 
sioned ended in bloodshed, and thus open rebellion 
commenced. 

The chief leader was one Cozba, a pupil of Akiba, 
and full of the wildest hopes and projects, the most 
noted of all the false Christs and false prophets, who 
deceived many. He took the name of Barcocab, the 

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164 THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 

Son of the Star, and believed himself to be the Star of 
Jacob foretold by Balaam that should smite the foes 
of Israel. Great numbers joined him, and he seized 
the city, once called Beth-horon — that "going down of 
Beth-horon" which had been the scene of Joshua's 
great victory — ^but which was now called Bithera, a 
name that the Jews translated into Bethtar, the place 
of spies, because certain traitors had lately lived there, 
and had informed against their countrymen, who 
went up to worship at the ruined temple. 

At Bithera, the aged Akiba girded Barcocab with 
the sword, placed the staff of command in his hand, 
and held the stirrup when he mounted his horse. 
He seems to have reigned there for two years and a 
half, and the revolt required the presence of the 
Emperor himself. Then the city was stormed, and 
when Barcocab himself was killed in battle, his 
corpse was so gigantic that Hadrian is reported to 
have said that he must have fallen by the hand of a 
god and not of a man. The Jews, in their disappoint- 
ment, changed his name from Barcocab, Son of the 
Star, to Bar Cozaba (Son of a Lie) ; and again their 
penalty was frightful, their rabbis were tortured to 
death, and the aged Akiba was torn to pieces by red- 
hot pincers, still to the last uttering his confession of 
faith, " God is One." 

Prisoners of less note were offered for slaves. 
Strange to say, the place of the chief sale was Mamre, 
the spot which the holy fame of Abraham had 
rendered the chief resort of all his children, the Ish- 
maelite and Idumean as well as the Israelite, so that 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 165 

a great fair was yearly held by the pilgrims, and 
called the Fair of the Turpentine-tree, in honour of 
the grand turpentine or terebinth tree, which our 
translation calls the oak, beneath which Abraham 
had been sitting in the cool of the day, when the 
mysterious Three came to him and gave him the 
promise that Sarah his wife should bear him a son, 
and that from him should spring the Seed in whom 
all families of the earth should be blessed. Now 
the sons of the promise, whose eyes were shut to 
the fulfilment, and who denied its extension to the 
families of the earth, led by the false lustre of 
their wandering star, were accomplishing the piteous 
prophecy so long ago spoken from Pisgah, and being 
sold in such numbers that " there was no man to buy 
them." 

In the gorges and fastnesses of the hills some Jews, 
however, still continued ; and wherever a Jew dwelt, 
in east or west, still his heart yearned to Jerusalem, 
and once in his life, or when he felt death approach- 
ing, would he struggle homewards, to lay his bones in 
the beloved soil of " the good," " the glorious" land 
of his fathers. There they would stand — those 
mournful pilgrims, old men and women, haggard, 
bowed, and clothed in rags — upon the Mount of 
Olives, where once Ke, who would fain have been 
their Redeemer, had wept for what was coming upon 
them — stretching out their arms, and gazing across the 
deep ravine at the broken walls of their Sanctuary, 
until at length the Roman garrison, moved with pity, 
or hoping for gain, consented to admit them on pay- 



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i66 THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 

ment, to weep over and cast perfumes upon the great 
stones of the ruin. 

** Oh for seraphic power 
To flash conviction on the Jew, 
And bid his soul exulting view 

His Temple's holiest hour ! " 

But that conviction has in only a few cases yet come, 
and still, after 1700 years, do the Jews still sit in the 
dust, on the north side of the site of the Temple, and 
wail aloud in mournful psalms for the desolation of 
their " holy and beautiful house/' 

It was all important to the Christians of Jewish 
birth to make it plain that they did not share in the 
disaffection of their countrymen ; and no doubt 
they were easily confounded with them, since they 
had laid aside few of the habits of the Old Cove- 
nant. A learned man named Aristo, resident at 
Pella, is said to have come forward on this occasion, 
and to have presented Hadrian with what was then 
called an Apology, i.e. a treatise explanatory of the 
tenets of his brethren, together with a petition on 
their behalf. Probably it was effectual, for the 
Christians of Judaea continued to dwell there witliout 
a great amount of persecution ; and though some fell 
into heresies, the greater part, becoming weaned from 
their clinging to the shadows of the ancient Covenant, 
became amalgamated with the Greeks of the East, in 
common with whom they have since shared the fate 
of the soil of Palestine. In Bethlehem, especially. 
Christians have always worshipped, and still their 



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THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST. 167 



grand figures and beautiful faces attest what the 
chosen people mt£-Ai have been, had they been 
universally learners from and with St. John, and of 
his great Master. 

Hardly anything more is known of Aristo of Pella; 
but it appears as if he had written a history of the 
war of Barcocab, from which the Church historian, 
Eusebius, and St Jerome, may have borrowed their 
account of it ; and there was also a controversial book 
attributed to him, namely, a dialogue between Jason, 
a Hebrew Christian, and Papiscus, a Graecised Jew of 
Alexandria. " There," says the account of it given by 
the person who translated it into Latin^ '* we have the 
obstinate hardness of the Jewish heart softened by 
Jewish warning and gentle chiding, and the teaching 
of Jason on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, victo- 
rious in the heart of Papiscus. When Papiscus was 
brought by this teaching to an understanding of the 
truth, and was fashioned into a fear of the Lord, 
through the mercy of the Lord himself, he put his 
trust in jESUS CHRIST, the Son of God, and asked of 
Jason that he might receive the mark of baptism." 

From a further mention of the dialogue in a 
treatise of Origen written about seventy years later, 
it is plain that as would be natural in the work of a 
Jew, written for Jews, it was full of allusions to the 
narratives of the Old Testament, and unfoldings of 
that mysterious foreshadowing which renders the 
veritable facts of Israelite history one great parable. 
To Celsus, a heathen philosopher of the Epicurean 
sect, this appeared foolishness ; and he spoke of the 



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168 THE HEBREWS OF THE EAST 

book as contemptible, and even hateful, and one that 
nobody would have patience or perseverance to read ; 
speaking evidently from hearsay, prejudice, and, 
perhaps, a cursory survey; for Origen, one of the 
greatest writers of early times, answers, that " if any 
one did really take the book into his hands, he would 
find in it nothing worthy of hatred, or even of 
laughter. In it a Christian is described as disputing 
with a Jew from the Jewish Scriptures, and showing 
that the prophecies about the Church meant Jesus. 
The other replies to the argument vigorously, and in a 
way not unbecoming the Jewish character he assumes." 

By some, this dialogue was even said to have been 
written by St. Luke ; but he would have been more 
likely to take the Greek side than the Jew; and when 
we regard the work as that of Aristo, the Israelite 
Christian who stood as champion of his Church 
before Hadrian, the hints we have respecting its 
character accord well with the period. Every Jew 
was then eager for mystic interpretations, and twisted 
the Scriptures at will, putting strange meanings upon 
the very letters, apart from the words ; but Aristo, true 
Israelite of God in heart as well as by descent, seems to 
have grasped the true meaning, and beheld the sub- 
stance — ^which alone explained the shadows ; and 
therewith he would bring conviction to the mind of his 
hitherto blinded countryman "searching the Scrip- 
tures," and thence " proving that this is very CHRIST." 

So, amid the thunders of judgment, the soft still 
small voice is heard, bringing to that remnant who 
would hearken thereto the blessing of peace. 



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CHAPTER XI. 

QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER. 

" For she is earthly, of the mind, 
But wisdom heavenly, of the soul." 

Tennyson, Knowledge and Wisdom, 

Athens had lost all her old greatness, and never 
revived. She had, indeed, become a sort of university, 
to which the Roman youth resorted to give the last 
polish to their education under Greek masters, in the 
groves associated with great names of old when 
thought was fresh ; but outwardly the city had never 
recovered from the cruel pillage it had suffered from 
Sulla more than a hundred years back ; and though on 
its beauteous slope stood the most exquisite buildings 
of ancient art, with the magnificent guardian goddess 
Athene presiding over them, and the temples and 
houses were of the most perfect taste, yet all was ruin 
and decay; and the natives mostly lived in filthy 
squalid huts, clustering between the fine old houses 
which were left to totter to their fall, save when repaired 
by some luxurious literary Roman who loved learned 
ease, or when they served as a lodging for the young 
men who contracted friendships as they wandered 
together in the groves, revelled in the courts with 
rose-garlanded heads, or, in their more serious hours. 



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I70 QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER. 

took lessons in poetry, grammar, or rhetoric, listened 
to the disputations of the philosophers under their 
porticoes, and made up their mind whether to be 
Stoics or Epicureans — whether their theory should be 
to practise virtue for its own sake, or virtue as the 
chief pleasure of life. For to hold one or other theor}'- 
had become quite essential to a Roman gentleman, 
and every one who considered himself to be a gentle- 
man was also a Roman. 

The wheat had long gone out of philosophy, but the 
chaff was left, and at Athens the continual blowing it 
backwards and forwards was a profitable occupation 
and very fashionable. So when St Paul came, the 
wheat of his discourse was soon found too heavy for 
Athens, and very few were his converts. 

However, one of these converts was Dionysius the 
Areopagite, — by which is probably meant a member 
of the council that met in the open air upon the hill 
of Ares, or Mars. Once that assembly had held the 
destinies of Greece in their hands ; they had now little 
more power than a mere town-council, but still, such 
as it was, the recollection of grand old times lingered 
around them, and few honours were more dignified in 
sound than that of being one of the council of the 
Areopagos. 

There might be much that sounded like philosophy 
when Paul, standing in the midst, declared that the 
Athenians were too superstitious, and that they lowered 
their notion of the Godhead by supposing it to be re- 
presented by images graven by art and man's device. 
So much clever heathens had made out, and in their 



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QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER. 171 

love of change and excitement they were ready to 
hear of the unknown God whom they had ignorantly 
worshipped ; but when he came to speak of the re- 
surrection of the dead, the idea of a renewed life in 
the worn-out body seemed to them for the most part 
so preposterous, that the assembly broke up, and 
would hear no more at that time. 

They did not persecute; they were merely indif- 
ferent ; their minds would play with a theory, but their 
souls would not receive it. Only a woman named 
Damaris, with this Dionysius and a few others, took 
the word into their hearts, and found that they had 
at last the light that alone could guide them out of 
the darkness where they had groped so long. The 
Apostle soon went away to the more hopeful city of 
Corinth, the seat of government and a great mart, 
where, if people were less intellectual, they were much 
more in earnest. 

It is said by ancient writers, that the small number 
of Christians at Athens were placed under the charge 
of Dionysius the Areopagite, and the Greek Church 
counts him as the first Athenian bishop ; but it is 
exceedingly difficult to distinguish between the many 
who bore that favourite name of Dionysius, and mis- 
takes and fable have been busy with him. Greek 
martyrologies declare him to have been burnt alive ; 
but this is not likely, as the Athenians were more 
light-minded than cruel, and the taste for barbarity 
had not yet set in. The French have tried to 
believe that their favourite, " Saint Denys," who was 
beheaded at Montmartre, was the Areopagite, but 



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172 QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER. 

this is impossible ; and there are also several writings 
attributed to him which are evidently forgeries. 
We can, however, think of him with some certainty 
as the foremost of those believers who came to 
Christianity by the road of philosophy, and found it 
answer the needs of a mind already trained to think. 
The Church at Athens was, however, small and lan- 
guishing, while Corinth was the leading Church in 
Greece until the tihie of Trajan, when a persecution 
arose, in which the bishop was slain, and many of the 
Christians fled to Athens. It would seem that this 
was thought a favourable opportunity for establishing 
a new bishopric there, and placing there as bishop a 
scholar who could argue in the heathen schools. Ac- 
cordingly Quadratus became ruler of the Athenian 
Christians. 

It is of the service rendered by Quadratus that 
we must next speak. Tradition — not very well sup- 
ported — makes him the Angel of Philadelphia who 
was so highly blessed; but if so, he was removed 
from thence before the death of Ignatius, and sent 
to Athens. There might have been good reason for 
this change, for Quadratus had been highly educated 
in all Athenian learning and philosophy before he 
became a Christian, and thus was fitter to uphold 
the truth in that learned city than a less instructed 
person. He awakened so excellent and faithful 
a spirit, that after half a century the state of the 
Athenian Church was cited by Origen to show the 
power of Christianity: so different were the self- 
restraint, order, and discipline there observed from the 



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QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER. 173 

tumultuary noise and fickleness for which the Athe- 
nians were notorious in all public assemblies. 

Quadratus put on his philosopher's robe, and went 
out into the schools and porticoes to argue with the 
teachers on their own ground. Indeed, Christian 
purity and morality were working their way, and 
thoughtful men, who despised and trampled on the 
doctrine as far as they knew it, were setting up a 
higher standard of conduct than ever they had known 
before, and feeling sick at heart when they fell short 
of it. Some of these were convinced by Quadratus, 
but not in sufficient numbers to change the character 
of the place, which continued the last citadel of 
heathen philosophy long after the conversion of the 
rest of the empire. Another Christian philosopher, 
named Aristides, likewise upheld the cause of truth 
by argument at the same time with Quadratus, and 
endeavoured to show that they had found that as- 
surance for which Plato had groped and stretched 
forth his hands. 

In the year 125 Athens was visited by the Emperor 
Hadrian, soon $ifter the first Jewish revolt had been 
quelled, but before that of Barcocab. He was not 
new to the place. As a boy he had studied there 
with such success that he was called by the nick- 
name of Graeculus, or the Young Greek. The Jews 
thought him almost a proselyte, and he was con- 
sidered to have all the accomplishments that were 
regarded as essentially the ornament of the true 
Attic born and bred scholar. He was, moreover, 
an able and active warrior, and well worthy to be 



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174 QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER, 

adopted as the successor of his cousin Trajan ; and 
he showed in bright colours what the old Roman 
nature could be when tempered, without being weak- 
ened, by Greek thought and refinement. 

He was a great traveller, and a great builder ; and 
Athens was looked upon as the centre of all poetical, 
historical, or artistic associations. He endeavoured 
to raise the city out of its ruins; he completed the 
magnificent temple to Zeus, which had been designed 
on a scale of such splendour that it had been in course 
of building ever since Athens had any history, and he 
placed within it an image of the father of the gods 
exquisitely worked in ivory and gold. Strange that 
the temple, begun when Greece was striving for truth, 
should be- finished just when the mighty form of 
heathen dominion with the head of gold and feet of 
iron and clay was already being struck by the stone 
cut out without hands. Other temples he built, how- 
ever, which had no image in them ; and whether this 
omission was merely from delay, or whether it was 
accidental, the Christians augured from it that the 
Emperor was beginning to understand that there was 
a worship purer and higher than that which was paid 
to the work of men's hands. 

He was certainly endeavouring to probe to the 
uttermost all that either heathen mythology or Greek 
philosophy could teach, and was even admitted to the 
mysteries of Eleusis, which were sypposed to reveal to 
the initiated the deepest of all secrets. 

But persecution was so far carried on, that where a 
governor was harsh or superstitious, the Christians 



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QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER. 175 

were sought out and put to death ; and, even under a 
mild governor, the laws were such, that if a spiteful 
neighbour laid an accusation against a Christian for 
forsaking the gods, there was no choice but that the 
edicts should take their course. 

Indeed, some of the Christians themselves had 
become inflamed with an exaggerated desire of 
martyrdom, and, forgetting that God was to be served 
oy their lives as well as their deaths, they courted 
torment and execution. When Arrius Antoninus, the 
pro-consul of Asia, opened his tribunal for accusa- 
tions against them, they came in such numbers of 
their own accord to denounce themselves, that he 
had no heart to permit them to be prosecuted, but 
drove them away with an air of contempt " If you 
are weary of life," he said, " there is rope enough for 
you to hang yourselves with." These wilful and pre- 
sumptuous self-sacrifices were, however, always dis- 
couraged by the Church, and it was observed that 
none were so apt to flinch and give way at the first 
touch of torture, or the immediate prospect of death, 
as those who had run into the danger without 
necessity. 

It is plain that the persecution could not have been 
hot throughout the greater part of the reign, since 
there is no martyr of note on record in the lists pre- 
served by the Churches, which were wont to be read 
aloud at a part of their Communion Service, the 
origin of that portion of our own where we thank 
God for those departed in His faith and fear. It was 
indeed said that Sophia, or Wisdom, with her three 



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1 76 QUADRA TCrS, THE PHIL OSOPHER. 

daughters, Faith, Hope, and Charity, were put to 
death under Hadrian at Rome; but this was probably 
an allegorical saying that is but too true of most 
times and places, but which came in after-times to be 
supposed to be the account of the martyrdom of four 
real women. 

Be this as it may, it is certain, that though the 
Christians in Hadrian's time were not actively per- 
secuted, yet they lived only on sufferance, and might 
at any time be legally put to death ; and in order to 
obtain toleration Quadratus and Aristides decided on 
endeavouring to argue out the truth of their religion, so 
that, even if the Emperor were not convinced, it might 
at least be established as a philosophy. It was a work 
well suited to the pupil of the Apostle who had met 
the Gnostics on their own ground, and shown how the 
Word, the manifestation, was coeval and integral with 
God, even like the light with the flame. 

The wise Greek pupil of the far-wiser Galilean 
fisherman donned the robe of the philosopher, and 
sought the Emperor under the shade of the portico, 
where the noble and beautiful figure of Hadrian might 
often be seen pacing the marble pavement, not so 
much resting from the toils of state as trying to slake 
his thirst for satisfactory truth. 

Before him then Quadratus stood and set forth his 
Argument, or Apology as it was called. We know 
nothing of it, except one sentence quoted by the 
Church historian, Eusebius, saying that " The deeds 
of our Saviour were always present, since they were 
real ; and many of those who were healed, and 



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^ 



QUADRATUS, THE PHILOSOPHER, 177 

rose from the dead, were living even to his own 
times." Nor is even one word preserved from the 
Apology of Aristides : but both were listened to with 
respect by the Emperor ; and though they did not con- 
vince him, he may have been struck by their wisdom 
and learning ; and when the proconsul of Asia shortly- 
after wrote to tell him of the violence and cruelty 
with which the Christians were used, he returned in 
answer a letter commanding that they should only 
suffer for direct transgressions of the law, and that 
accusations evidently preferred out of spite and malice 
should receive no attention- 
Such was the victory won by Quadratus and Aris- 
tides; the more marked because Hadrian, a keen- 
witted, satirical man, shortly after was so disgusted 
with what he saw of the Alexandrians, as to write to 
a friend that " They have but one god (/. e. Wealth) : 
him. Christians, Jews, and Gentiles worship all alike." 
Had all Christians been like these of Athens, what 
might not have been the effect on the wise, thoughtful, 
shrewd, and inquiring Hadrian ? 

And if it be true that Quadratus was the Angel of 
Philadelphia, surely he did stand fast and keep the 
Word, and denied not the Holy Name, holding fast 
that which he had, and letting no man take his crown. 
The simple, child-like Ignatius proved his love by 
practical exhortation, and by victory over death ; the 
highly-instructed Quadratus used his talents to prove 
by human reasoning and argument the supreme 
glory of Truth. One seemed to continue the likeness 
of St. John in his character of Shepherd giving his 

N 



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178 QUADRATUSy THE PHILOSOPHER. 

life for the sheep ; the other in the character of Divine, 
setting forth the manifestation of the Godhead by 
force of argument 

The later life of Quadratus is not known. There 
is only an uncertain report that after Hadrian's 
departure, the Athenians rose upon him, pelted him 
with stones, and drove him away, fearing lest his true 
philosophy should destroy all the false ones, as Aaron's 
rod swallowed those of the magicians, and that their 
city would no longer be a place of resort He is said 
then to have gone to Magnesia, in Asia Minor ; but 
a)l this is utterly uncertain. 



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CHAPTER XII. 

KOW POLYCARP PLAYED THE MAN IN THE FIRE. 

•* I bless Thee, Holiest Father, 

I thank Thee, blessed Son, 
Because the golden crown is near, 

The race is nearly run. 
God of all things created, 

Angels and earthly power, 
I praise Thee for the agony 

Of this departing hour."— Mrs. Alexander. 

The last survivors of the disciples of St John were 
Polycarp of Smyrna, Pothinus of Lyons, and Papias 
of Hierapolis. Polycarp's name in Greek means " much 
fruit," and he well fulfilled the promise of that ap- 
pellation. The old Greek menologies (or histories of 
saints and martyrs) report, but on what authority 
is unknown, that he began life as a slave, but was 
educated at the expense of a pious and charitable 
lady named Calisto, who, while he was still a youth, 
made him steward of her household, and afterwards 
manumitted him. 

Under Bucolus, the first Bishop of Smyrna, he was 
made first catechist and then deacon; and at this 
time he was much with St. John, gathering and trea- 

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i8o HOW POLYCARP PLAYED THE MAN. 

suring up his histories of our Blessed Lord and His 
teaching; and on the death of Bucolus, young as 
he was, he became Bishop of Smyrna. One author 
says that it was he who had the charge of the youth 
who became a robber, and was reclaimed by St. John ; 
but as this is not mentioned by the first writers 
v/ho tell the history, there is no reason for believing 
it. Indeed, how faithful and vigilant an angel he was 
to his Smyrniotes may be seen from the message 
and promise to him. And twenty years later, as has 
been said, it was to him that his old friend Ignatius 
entmsted the charge of the forlorn Church of Antioch, 
till a new pastor could be appointed. 

The care of all the Churches, once borne by St. 
Paul and then by St. John, was, on the death of 
Ignatius, bestowed upon Polycarp; and he wrote 
letters to them, as need served, of which only one 
is extant, — namely, one written soon after his fellow- 
disciple Ignatius had taken his last leave of him, and 
had been at Philippi, but before the full account of 
his death had arrived. It begins thus : — 

"Polycarp and the presbyters with him to the 
Church of God which is at Philippi. Mercy and 
peace be multiplied upon you, from God Almighty, 
and from the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 

" I have greatly rejoiced with you in the joy you 
have had in our Lord, in receiving those ensamples of 
true charity, and having accompanied, as it well be- 
came you, those who were bound with holy chains, 
which are the diadems of the truly elect of God and 
our Lord, and for that the strong root of your faith, 



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HO IV POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. i8i 

spoken of in the earliest times, endureth until now, 
and bringeth forth fruit unto our Lord jESUS CHRIST, 
who suffered for our sins, but whom God raised from 
the dead, having loosed the pains of death ; in Whom, 
though ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing 
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; into 
which joy many desire to enter." 

The mention of the faith of the Philippians, "spoken 
of in the earliest times," is an allusion to St Paul's 
thanksgiving for " their fellowship in the Gospel from 
the first day until now," in that "epistle of joy" 
written in the severest part of his first imprisonment 

" * Wherefore, girding up your loins,' * serve the Lord 
in fear' and truth, as those who have forsaken the 
vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and 'be- 
lieved in Him who raised up our Lord jESUS CHRIST 
from the dead, and gave Him glory,' and a throne at 
His right hand. To Him all things in heaven and 
on earth are subject Him every spirit serves. He 
comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. His 
blood will God require of those who do not believe 
in Him. But He who raised Him up from the dead 
will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in 
His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping 
ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love 
of money, evil-speaking, false-witness ; * not rendering 
evil for evil, or railing for railing,' or blow for blow, 
or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the 
Lord said in His teaching: 'Judge not, that ye be 
not judged ; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto 
you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with 



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i82 HO W POL YCARP PLA YED THE MAN, 

what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you 
again ; ' and once more, * Blessed are the poor, and 
those that are persecuted for righteousness* sake, for 
theirs is the kingdom of God.' 

" These things, brethren, I write to you concerning 
righteousness, not because I take anything on myself, 
but because ye have invited me thereto. For neither 
I, nor any such as I, can come up to the wisdom of 
the blessed and glorified Paul He, when among you, 
accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in 
the presence of those who were then alive ; and when 
absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which,* if you 
carefully study, you will find to be the means of 
building you up in that faith which has been given 
you, and which, being followed by hope and preceded 
by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, 
is 'the Mother of us all/ For if any one be in- 
wardly possessed of these graces, he hath fulfilled 
the command of righteousness, since he that hath love 
is far from all sin. 

'* But ' the love of money is the root of all evils/ 
Knowing, therefore, that * as we brought nothing into 
the world, so we can carry nothing out,' let us arm 
ourselves with the armour of righteousness ; and let 
us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the com- 
mandments of the Lord. Next teach your wives 
to walk in the faith given to them, and in love and 
purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all 
truth, and loving all equally in all chastity ; and to 
train up their children in the knowledge and fear of 
God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN, 183 

the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, 
being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false- 
witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil ; 
knowing that they are the altar of God, that He 
clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid 
from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any 
one of the secret things of the heart. 

"Knowing, then, that 'God is not mocked,* we 
ought to walk worthy of His commandment and 
glory. In like manner should the deacons be blame- 
less before the face of His righteousness, as being the 
servants of God and Christ, and not of men. They 
must not be slanderers, double-tongued, or lovers of 
money, but temperate in all things, compassionate, 
industrious, walking according to the truth of the 
Lord, who was the servant of all. If we please Him 
in this present world, we shall receive also the future 
world, according as He has promised to us that He 
will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live 
worthily of Him, * we shall also reign together with 
Him,' provided only we believe. In like manner, let 
the young men also be blameless in all things, being 
especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping 
themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of 
evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from 
the lusts that are in the world, since 'every lust 
warreth against the spirit ; ' nor shall they who do 
such things inherit the kingdom of God, nor those 
who do things inconsistent and unbecoming. Where- 
fore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, 
being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto 



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i84 HOW POLYCARP PLAYED THE MAN. 

God and Christ. The virgins also must walk in a 
blameless and pure conscience. 

"And let the presbyters be compassionate and 
merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, 
visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, 
the orphan, or the poor, but always 'providing for 
that which is becoming in the sight of God and men ; * 
abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and 
unjust judgment ; keeping far off from all covetous- 
ness, not quickly crediting an evil report against any 
one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we 
are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the 
Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; 
for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and 
' we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, 
and must every one give an account of himself* Let 
us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, 
even as He himself has commanded us, and as the 
apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the 
prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of 
the Lord have alike taught us. Let us be zealous 
in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves 
from causes of offence, from false brethren, and from 
those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, 
and draw away vain men into error. 

" ' For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ 
has come in the flesh, is antichrist ; ' and whosoever 
does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the 
devil ; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord 
to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resur- 
rection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 185 

Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their 
false doctrines, let us return to the word which has 
been handed down to us from the beginning ; ' watch- 
ing unto prayer,' and persevering in fasting ; beseech- 
ing in our supplications the all-seeing God 'not to 
lead us into temptation,* as the Lord has said ; * The 
spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak/ 

'* Let us then continually persevere in our hope, 
and the earnest of our righteousness, which is jESUS 
Christ, 'who bore our sins in His own body on the 
tree,' 'who did no sin, neither was guile found in 
His mouth,' but endured all things for us, that we 
might live in Him. Let us then be imitators of His 
patience ; and if we suffer for His name's sake, let 
us glorify Him. For He hath set us this example 
in Himself, and we have believed that such is the 
case. 

" I exhort you all, therefore, to yield obedience to 
the word of righteousness, and to exercise all patience, 
such as ye have seen set before your ty^s^ not only 
in the case of the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and 
Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in 
Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles. This do 
in the assurance that all these have not run in vain, 
but in faith and righteousness, and that they are [now] 
in their due place in the presence of the Lord, with 
whom also they suffered. For they loved not this 
present world, but Him who died for us, and for our 
sakes was raised again by God from the dead. 

" Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow 
the example of the Lord, being firm and unchange- 



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l86 HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 

able in the faith, loving the brotherhood, and being 
attached to one another, joined together in the truth, 
exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your inter- 
course with one another, and despising no one. When 
you can do good, defer it not, because ' alms delivers 
from death/ Be all of you subject one to another, 
* having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles,* 
that ye may both receive praise for your good works, 
and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. 
But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is 
blasphemed ! Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and 
manifest it also in your own conduct. 

" I am greatly grieved for Valens, who was once a 
presbyter among you, because he so little understands 
the place that was given him in the Church. I 
exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetous- 
ness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. 'Abstain 
from every form of evil.' For if a man cannot govern 
himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them 
on others } If a man does not keep himself from 
covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and 
shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of 
us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord ? * Do 
we not know that the saints shall judge the world ? ' 
as Paul teaches. But I have neither seen nor heard 
of any such thing among you, in the midst of whom 
the blessed Paul laboured, and who are commended 
in the beginning of his epistle. For he boasts of you 
in all tliose Churches which alone then knew the 
Lord ; but we of Smyrna had not yet known Him. 
I am deeply grieved therefore, brethren, for hira 



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HOIV POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 187 

(Valens) and his wife ; to whom may the Lord grant 
true repentance ! And be ye then moderate in regard 
to this matter, and * do not count such as enemies/ 
but call them back as suffering and straying members, 
that ye may save your whole body. For by so acting 
ye shall edify yourselves. 

" For I trust that ye are well versed in the sacred 
Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you ; but to 
me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared 
then in these Scriptures, * Be ye angry, and sin not,' 
and * Let not the sun go down upon your v/rath.* 
Happy is he who remembers this, which I believe to 
be the case with you. But may the God and Father 
of our Lord Jesus CHRIST, and Jesus Christ him 
self, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High 
Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all 
meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbear- 
ance, and purity ; and may He bestow on you a lot 
and portion among His saints, and on us with you, 
and on all that are under heaven who shall believe 
in our Lord jESUS Christ, and in His Father, who 
* raised him from the dead.' Pray for all the saints. 
Pray also for kings, and potentates, and princes, and 
for those that persecute and hate you, and for the 
enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest 
to all, and that ye may be perfect in Him. 

" Both you and Ignatius wrote to me, that if any 
one went from hence into Syria, he should carry your 
letter with him ; which request I will attend to if I 
find a fitting opportunity, either personally, or through 
some other acting for me, that your desire may be 



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lS8 HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 

fulfilled. The epistles of Ignatius written by him to 
us, and all the rest of his epistles which we have by 
us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are 
subjoined to this epistle, and by them ye may be 
greatly profited : for they treat of faith and patience, 
and all things that tend to edification in our Lord. 
Any more certain information you may have obtained 
respecting both Ignatius himself, and those that 
were with him, have the goodness to make known 
to us. 

" These things I have written to you by Crescens, 
whom up to the present time I have recommended 
unto you, and do now recommend. For he has acted 
blamelessly among us, and I believe also among you. 
Moreover, ye will hold his sister in esteem^ when she 
comes to you. Be ye safe in the Lord jESUS CHRIST. 
Grace be with you all. Amen." 

Such is the letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, 
like those of his friend Ignatius, evidently formed on 
the model of St. Paul's less argumentative Epistles ; 
full of a calm and tender affection, and no doubt 
greatly cheering the Christians by the sense of union 
and fellow-feeling which they so highly valued, as 
giving them the sense of oneness and fellowship in 
the midst of the hostile world around. Of Zosimus 
and Rufus, the martyrs, we have no knowledge, nor 
of the fallen presbyter, Valens. 

However, even among orthodox Christians, the 
germs of a serious difference were at this time 
beginning to make themselves felt St. John had 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 189 

always followed the Jewish rule in celebrating the 
Paschal feast. He had always reckoned the day of 
killing the passover as the fourteenth of the moon 
after the spring equinox, and kept it in memory of 
the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and the third day 
after it as the great Day of Resurrection, without heed 
to what day of the week these might fall upon ; and 
in this he was followed by all the Churches he had 
planted in Asia. 

But the Churches of Rome and of Egypt thought 
that the original days of the week must be observed, 
and they kept the day of the Lord's death always on 
the Friday, the Resurrection feast always on the 
Lord's day after the first full moon from the equinox 
of 2 1st of March ; and the Christians, who would fain 
have united in all mourning, all rejoicing, at the 
same time, were seriously concerned at this want of 
uniformity. 

At this time Hadrian was dead, and the kindly, 
gentle-hearted emperor, Antoninus Pius, had put forth 
an edict favourable to the Christians ; and this gave 
Polycarp an opportunity of journeying to Rome, to 
consult with Anicetus, the ruling bishop, upon the 
matter. There he could learn in full freshness all 
he had desired to know of the constancy of his friend 
Ignatius ; and there the Roman Christians reverently 
collected every precious detail that fell from him of 
the sayings and doings of the holy men he had known 
in his youth. 

There were differences in the habits of the two 
Churches. Not only was the language of the one 



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190 HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 

Greek and of the other Latin, but, while essentials 
were the same, slightly different formulas prevailed, 
over which Polycarp and Anicetus had much conver- 
sation, but most friendly and affectionate; and although 
Anicetus with ten other bishops decided that their 
Church could not keep their Resurrection feast on any 
but the first day of the week, and Polycarp could not 
give up the practice endeared to him by that Apostle 
who stood first by the empty tomb, — yet the two 
good men treated one another with all love and reve- 
rence; and Anicetus caused Polycarp, as the eldei 
and greater, to consecrate the Holy Eucharist in the 
assemblies of the Church while he was at Rome.* 

The historian does not tell us where these assem- 
blies took place, but it may well be believed that they 
were in those wonderful mysterious galleries of tufa, 
where the Christian slaves, having long been set to 
perform their daily labour, had found a resting-place 
for their dead and a refuge for the living. Deep 
underground, in excavations carefully hollowed out, 
with the memorials of departed brethren on the sides 
of the cavern around them, and the little oil lamps 
contending with the deep darkness of the vaults on 
every side of them, would Polycarp and Anicetus 
have together ministered to the adoring assembly, 
who listened with awe and gladness to he words that 
fell from him who had been taught by the last and 
best beloved of the holy Twelve. 

* Some render the sentence to mean only that Polycarp was present 
at the celebration ; but this would have been hardly worth recording, 
as it would have been a matter of course. 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN, 191 

Polycarp, speaking with authority so directly de- 
rived from St John, is said to have settled the minds 
of many at Rome, who were insecure of the truth. 
He was much shocked at the various loose doctrines 
he was told of at Rome, and used to stop his ears, 
crying, " Good God, to what times hast Thou reserved 
me, that I should hear such things as these!" He 
told the story of St. John's fleeing from the bath 
where Cerinthus was; and when Marcion, a mis- 
chievous false teacher, met him, and asked if he knew 
who he was, he answered, " I know thee for the eldest 
son of Satan." We learn these facts from Irenseus, 
a very careful writer, who heard them at Rome from 
those who had conversed with Polycarp. And thus 
the strong spirit of contending for the purity of the 
faith had descended from St John upon the great 
Smymiot bishop. 

He returned to his round of duties at Smyrna: 
years passed on, and he became an extremely old 
man, hale and vigorous indeed, but still that crown 
of martyrdom, which had seemed to be promised to 
him through St John, came not, and it appeared 
as if he would fall asleep peaceably like the great 
Apostle. 

At length, however, times began to change. The 
reigning emperor, Marcus Aurelius, was one of the 
most excellent of the purple-robed philosophers of 
the second century; but it was a time of great trouble 
in the empire, a period of famine, earthquakes, and 
pestilences, fire and sword. The merciful edicts gained 
by Quadratus from Hadrian, and continued by Anto- 



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192 HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 

ninus Pius, were allowed to fall into oblivion, and the 
excitement of the people in their grief and terror was 
permitted to expend itself upon the Christians. 

Smyrna, beneath whose fertile soil are those volcanic 
influences that continually rock it with earthquake, 
had been especially alarmed, both by these and by 
a deadly pestilence that had been brought by the 
legions on their return from Syria. The proconsul 
of Syria, Statius Quadratus, gave licence to the fury 
of the multitude, and the worst persecution began 
that had yet raged. It is evident that so much of the 
old Greek republican constitution remained, that the 
decision for life or death partly rested with the citizens ; 
and of these there seems to have been a large propor- 
tion of Jews, who, in spite of the general depression of 
their race, seem to have there retained much prosperity, 
and were even of weight in public affairs. Some 
Christians were frightfully scourged to make them 
reveal the rites of unholiness that the Pagans fancied 
they practised in their assemblies, and the tribulation 
foretold in their message from heaven was indeed ful- 
filled in them, but without shaking their constancy. 

In especial was observed a young man named 
Germanicus, who, when brought before the tribunal 
and entreated by the proconsul to take pity on his 
own youth and to yield so far as to sacrifice to the 
gods, made no answer, but was led cheerfully into the 
amphitheatre, and offered himself to the beasts with 
visible joy. The sight of his unmoved looks added 
fresh fuel to the fury of the Smyrniotes, who shouted 
with one voice, " Away with the atheists ! ' Seek for 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 193 

Polycarp ! " In the general excitement, another young- 
Christian sprang forward, presented himself to the 
proconsul, and demanded to be martyred ; but no 
sooner did he behold the beasts than his nerves failed, 
and, turning pale with terror, he sacrificed to the gods, 
and became a warning to the Christians against trans- 
gressing the wise rule of the Church, that no one 
should present himself or court the fiery trial of 
martyrdom. 

The aged bishop himself had obeyed these orders, 
and yielded to the entreaties of his friends by retiring 
from the city into a little village in the country ; but . 
the foreboding that his crown was almost won was 
strong upon him, and he dreamt that he saw his bed 
in flames. Shortly after, two children from the village 
were seized. One allowed himself to be beaten to 
death rather than betray his bishop. The other, under 
torture, revealed his hiding-place; and Herodes, a 
Smyrniote magistrate, whose office it was to arrest 
criminals, sent out a party of horsemen to surround 
his house. He gave himself up to them, only saying, 
" The will of the Lord be done," and desired that pro- 
visions should be set before them ; and while they 
regaled themselves he prayed for two hours. It was 
the " great Sabbath," no doubt our Easter-eve, when 
in the morning they mounted him on an ass, and set 
forth for the city in the coolness of the sunrise. On 
the way Herodes, in a chariot with his father, met 
them, and took the prisoner up with them ; where 
they began to argue with him upon the inexpediency 
of throwing away his life. " What is the harm," they 

o 



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194 I^OIV POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 

said, "of calling Caesar Lord, or even of sacrificing, 
when life is to be saved ? " 

This title was given to Caesar in an idolatrous sense, 
such as had led the earlier emperors to refuse it, and 
Polycarp made no answer at first, until, on being hard 
pressed, he said, " I shall never do what you ask/' 
They were so angry as to push the old man out of the 
chariot, when he fell and severely bruised his leg ; but 
he made no complaint, and was led on to the city, 
where the proconsul's tribunal was already set — it 
would appear as if in the Stadium, or amphitheatre,, 
— an unusual place for a trial ; but as Polycarp's fatq 
was virtually decided, the proconsul may have grati- 
fied the populace by pronouncing the judgment before 
the greatest possible number of auditors. Among 
them were many of his own flock, anxious to hear and 
see the glorious confession he was sure to witness, and 
these declared that they heard a voice speak to him 
from heaven, saying, " Be strong, Polycarp, quit thy- 
self like a man ;" but the whole building was echoing 
all round with shouts of exultation, more fearful than 
the roars of beasts of prey, as dissolute Asiatic, 
luxurious lady, worldly merchant, ruffianly soldier, 
homeless and embittered Jew, degraded slave, be- 
held at last upon the sand-strewn arena that old 
man whose purity, simplicity, and love had been a 
standing reproach to them through the whole of 
their lives. 

The proconsul, new to the place and scene, was 
struck by the serene majesty of the aged man, and 
the fortitude which recalled the tales of old Romaa 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 195 

nobleness. He entreated Polycarp to " Regard his 
great age, say ' Take away the godless/ and swear by 
the genius of Caesar." 

Turning his eyes round about upon the faces of the 
pagan multitude, Polycarp sighed, looked up to heaven 
and said, " Take away the godless." 

" Swear by the genius of Caesar," continued Statius, 
" and I will release thee, when thou hast denounced 
thy Christ" 

" Eighty and six years have I served Him," was 
Polycarp's answer, "nor hath He ever done me 
wrong. Why then should I denounce my King 
and Saviour?" 

" At least," said Statius, " swear by the genius of 
Caesar." 

This genius was the being supposed to be at- 
tached to the fortune of each man, as guardian of 
his life ; and Polycarp would thus have acknowledged 
paganism. He answered : " Hear my confession. 
I am a Christian, and if you would know what 
that meaneth, appoint me a day, and I will show 
thee." 

" Persuade the people," replied the proconsul. 

" To thee," replied Polycarp, " I am bound to speak, 
since we are bidden to render their due to the powers 
that be ; but yonder people are not my judges that I 
should plead to them." 

"Knowest thou not," said Statius, vexed at his 
resolution, " that I have beasts to which I will cast 
thee if thou yieldest not ? " 

" Let them come," said Polycarp : " I will not turn 
O 2 



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196 HOIV POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 

from good to evil ; but from evil to good it is well to 
pass ! " 

" If thou despisest the beasts, thou shalt be burnt 
with fire," said the proconsul. 

"Thou dost threat me with a flame that is soon 
burnt out," said Polycarp, " but knowest not the ever- 
lasting fire that awaits the^vicked. Delay not ; bring 
whatever thou wilt." 

His bright face, upright form, and the joy that 
spread over his countenance, beautiful with a holy 
old age, struck all the beholders, and he must 
have been at least a hundred years old, since he 
must have reckoned his eighty-six years of service 
from his conversion. He had been bishop at least 
seventy years, and had been faithful through all of 
them ! 

The proconsul fulfilled the ceremony of sending 
round a herald to announce, " Polycarp has confessed 
himself a Christian." 

Out burst Jews and Greeks with many voices: 
" The teacher of Asia ! the father of Christians ! the 
foe of the gods ! Away with him ! — ^with him who 
forbids to worship ! The beasts for Polycarp ! " 

It was, however, the last day of the games : the 
beast shows were over ; and to produce the animals 
was against the rules. " Fire," was then the cry ; and 
so eager was the populace, that they hurried off — ^the 
Jews eagerly assisting — to bring in fagots from the 
shops and the baths. 

When the pile was ready, Polycarp loosad his girdle, 
and bent to remove his sandals, an office that his 



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HO IV POLYCARI' PLA YED THE MAN. 197 

disciples were wont in their love to perform for him. 
When the executioners would have fastened him to 
the stake with nails, as seems to have been the cruel 
Smyrniot fashion, he said, " It is needless ; leave me 
alone. He who gives me strength to endure the flame 
will enable me to stand firm on the pile." They con- 
tented themselves with tying his hands behind his 
back; and then, as the fagots were kindled, even as 
the Three Children sang praises in the fire, Polycarp 
broke forth with a loud voice in a thanksgiving, with 
almost tlie same opening that is found as a Eucha- 
ristic hymn in the oldest records of the worship of the 
Eastern Church, and in substance as well as ' words 
much resembling our highest act of praise at the Holy 
Communion. Those Christians whom their venerable 
bishop had led to sing it at their holiest moments for 
so many years, who would naturally have sung it with 
him on the next day at their Easter Communion, 
must have been thrilled with rapture as well as grief 
as they heard his voice uplifted : 

" Lord God Almighty, Father of our Lord jESUS 
Christ, Thy blessed and beloved Son, through whom 
we have received the grace of knowing Thee. God 
of angels and powers, God of all things created, and 
of the just who live in Thy presence, I bless Thee 
for having brought me to this hour that I may be 
among Thy martyrs and drink of the cup of my Lord 
Jesus Christ, to rise to eternal life in the incorruption 
of the Holy Ghost. Receive me this day into Thy 
presence together with them, being found in Thy light 
as a fair and acceptable sacrifice prepared for Thyself, 



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198 . HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN, 

tliat so Thou mayest accomplish what Thou, O true 
and faithful God, hast foreshown. Wherefore I praise 
Thee for all Thy mercies : I bless Thee, I glorify 
Thee, through the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, 
Thy beloved Son, with whom to Thyself and the 
Holy Ghost, be glory both now and for ever. 
Amen." 

As that universal Eucharistic hymn sounded in the 
aged saint's voice, the flame arose from the light 
fagots, and, caught by the wind, swelled out, like the 
sail of a ship, into an arch or canopy of glory, in the 
midst of which the form of Polycarp was seen, still 
praying but untouched ; and the aromatic woods of 
the fagots, gathered in haste from baths and shops, 
gave out a sweet odour that seemed to the awe-struck 
Christians like the incense of the sacrifice, 

** God's elements are merciful, 
Man only mocks His will; 
The raging fire had spared the Saint, 
The sword had power to kill." 

God's providence working through natural means 
had mercifully spared His aged servant the agony 
of the fiery death to which he had willingly offered 
himself, but without depriving him of his long-pro- 
mised crown, which, as he said in his thanksgiving, 
God himself had foreshown. The spectators, dis- 
appointed at the failure of the flame, called out to 
one of the confectores, or men whose business it was 
to despatch the wounded in their savage sports, to 
kill the old man at once. A short sword was plunged 
into his left side, and such an effusion of blood took 



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HOW POLYCARP PLA YED THE MAN. 199 

place as to quench the smouldering remnant of the 
fire. The Christians would have watched and kept 
the body with something of the feeling with which 
Polycarp's master and the sorrowing women had 
watched a holier corpse on Easter-eve 133 years 
before ; but the Jews, divining their intention, repre- 
sented to the heathen that they would, if they had 
the body, leave the Crucified to worship it, — " little 
knowing," as the Christians said, " that we can never 
leave jESUS Christ, nor adore any other. We do, 
indeed, honour the martyrs, but only as His disciples 
and imitators, who have given the greatest marks of 
love to their King and Master.*' 

The proconsul bade the centurion bum the body ; 
but on that Easter-night some Christians crept back 
and secured a few bones, which they buried on the 
hill-side, and over which a small Christian church still 
stands. It was on Easter-eve, the 2Sth of April, 166, 
that Polycarp suffered with his Lord, at two o'clock 
in the afternoon, and went to receive his crown, and 
sing his song of praise, and keep his feast of the Lamb 
among those whom St. John had seen on the sea of 
glass mingled with fire. 

The story of his death is given thus minutely in a 
letter from the Smymiote Church to the Christians at 
Philomelium, relating the particulars. One transcriber 
seems to have mistaken the Greek word meaning the 
left side, for one that means a dove ; and thus a belief 
arose that a dove had risen from Polycarp's side when 
the sword had been thrust into it. But, otherwise, the 



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200 HOW POLYCARP PLAYED THE MAN. 

history had nothing of the miraculous, though much 
of the merciful in it ; and the Churches of Asia might 
well dwell upon it as a most blessed and hopeful 
encouragement to be like Polycarp, — ^"faithful imto 
death," so as to win " a crown of life ** 



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CHAPTER XIII. 

PAPUS AND MELITO, THE CREDULOUS AND THE THOUGHTFUL 
BELIEVER. 

•* I could have deem'd one spake from heaven. 
Of hope and joy, of life and death, 
And immortality through faith." 

Archbishop Trench, yustin Martyr, 

We have already seen how many were the perils 
which the writings of the early Church underwent, — a 
sort of sifting process, as it were, which has brought 
only a few down to our times. 

This is the case with Papias, apparently another of 
the pupils of St. John, of whom very little is known, 
except that he was ruler of the Church of Hierapolis, 
one of the chief Phrygian cities. Judging by his name, 
which means " the fatherly," he was probably of Greek 
extraction, but he must early have become a disciple, 
and as a youth he obtained much instruction from, 
St John, and likewise conversed with two of the 
daughters of Philip the Deacon. 

It may be remembered that when St. Paul was at 
Caesarea, he lodge4 in the house of this Philip, the 



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202 PAPIAS AND MELITO. 

same who had baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, and 
who " had four daughters, virgins, who did pro- 
phesy." One of these four is said to have married, 
the other two lived on together at Hierapolis, pro- 
bably as deaconesses, virgins who are called widows, 
as Ignatius said ; and from these holy women Papias 
learnt many particulars concerning our Lord and His 
Apostles. 

Of him Eusebius, the Church historian of the fourth 
century, says : — 

Papias (according to Irenaeus), a disciple of St. 
John and companion of Polycarp — though himself 
does nowhere say that he conversed with any of the 
Apostles, but only with those that had been intimate 
with them — ^wrote five books, which he entitled 
" Explications of the Oracles of Christ," where he 
has inserted a great variety of remarkable particulars, 
communicated to him by those who had known the 
Apostles, and lets us understand that he made it his 
business, as it fell in his way, to inquire after the 
sayings of Andrew, or Philip, or Peter, or Thomas, or 
any other of the Apostles. He tells us (what Philip's 
daughters had imparted to him) of a dead body 
raised to life again : and how that Justus, surnamed 
Barsabas, having drunk a draught of poison, received 
no manner of hurt or indisposition by it ; and that 
St. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, leaving it 
to the reader to interpret for himself. His writings 
have some passages in them legendary and ground- 
less, particularly his opinion that, after the Resurrec- 
tion, Christ should reign visibly a thousand years 



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PAPIAS AND MELITO. 



203 



Upon earth, which he was led into, being a plain and 
illiterate man, " by misunderstanding some allegorical 
and mystic expressions of the Apostles ;" and after- 
wards, the earliness of his authority drew others into 
the same error. 

Thus we learn from Irenaeus that Papias both 
said and wrote that the disciples reported that they 
had heard from our Lord that the days should 
come in which the vines should have ten thousand 
branches, each branch ten thousand twigs, each 
twig ten thousand shoots, each shoot ten thousand 
bunches, each bunch ten thousand grapes, and each 
grape should give twenty-five measures of wine; 
and when one of the saints should lay hold of a 
cluster, another should cry out, " I am a better 
cluster ; bless the Lord through me ; " — that wheat 
should in like manner multiply ten thousandfold, all 
the fruits of the earth be in due proportion, and all the 
beasts of prey become peaceable. 

Understood literally, this is of course utterly unlike 
anything we know of our blessed Lord's unearthly 
teaching, yet it does sound hke what a literal and 
narrow mind, listening to mere word-of-mouth nar- 
rations, might make of the parable of the Vine, and 
of the Sower, or of the Grain of Mustard-seed ; and 
we also see how providential and how merciful it 
was that the real words of our Lord were so early 
recorded by two eye-witnesses, and by two scholarly 
men, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, instead 
of being left to the versions that good but dull-minded 
believers might make of them. 



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204 PAPIAS AND MELITO, 

As to matters of fact, Papias related that which is 
generally believed, both on his and on internal autho- 
rity, — namely, that St. Mark's Gospel was drawn up 
from the teachings of St Peter, and was not meant 
to be a full narrative in the exact order in which the 
events took place. 

He also said that Judas' death was occasioned 
by being run over by a carriage, which is certainly 
inconsistent with St Luke's narrative; and he fur- 
ther explained the four Maries in the Gospels to have 
been Mary, the mother of our Lord ; Mary, wife 
of Cleophas ; Mary Salome, wife of Zebedee ; and 
Mary Magdalene ; adding that the three first were 
sisters, and that James, Simon, Thaddeus, and Joseph 
were sons of Cleophas, and James and John of 
Zebedee. The custom of giving daughters of a family 
the same name was not uncommon in those days, and 
this explanation so far agrees with what we gather 
from the Gospels that it may be admitted. A man 
who would confuse parable into material prophecy, 
would still not be unlikely to thread his way clearly 
in genealogical details. 

And in him we find that there can be small clear- 
ness of intellect even in holy and good men, and that a 
feeble, simple mind may yet learn the true qualities 
of a Christian enough to be loved and honoured by 
saints, and to become worthy of their companion- 
ship, not by word, but by deed. For all that is 
further known of Papias is, that he. died a martyr in 
the same persecution as did his far abler companion, 
Polycarp ; but even the scene of his death is not cer- 



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PAPIAS AND MEUTO. 205 

tain, some saying that he was slafti at Hierapolis, 
others that he was taken to Rome with Onesimus of 
Ephesus, and there put to death. However that may 
be, he has attained to the fruition of those good things 
of God of which he talked with such literal sim 
plicity. 

Of Aristion, who is also spoken of as being able to 
tell of St. John's teaching, nothing is known. A more 
able man, who must have been brought up by the 
immediate pupils of St. John, was governing the 
Church of Sardis ; which would seem to have for 
a time improved in faith and love. This was Melito, 
of whom very little is known, except that he is said to 
have written numerous books, which were very highly 
esteemed. One letter of his to his brother Onesimus 
has been preserved, which is very remarkable, since 
it relates that, at his brother's desire, he made a 
journey to Jerusalem in order to obtain accurate 
knowledge which were the genuine books of the 
Old Testament, and to make extracts from them. 
He subjoins a list of all excepting the Books of 
Esther and Nehemiah, which he probably included 
under the title of Ezra. He says he "went up to 
the East, and reached the place where they were 
preached and done." This probably means that he 
went among the Judaic Christians, who would still 
have copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. It would 
appear by this that the Gentile Christians had not 
for the most part had access to the Scriptures of the 
elder covenant ; or it may be that in the Greek trans- 
lation, called the Septuagint, they could not always 



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2o6 PAPIAS AND MELITO. 

distinguish between the apocryphal and the inspired 
writings. At any rate, Melito's is the earliest direct 
Christian testimony to the canon of the Old Testa- 
ment, and the pains and care he took are manifest 
He wrote many other books, whose titles alone 
remain to us. One was on the Lord's Day, another on 
Hospitality, another on Baptism. One was called "The 
Key," and there was a comment on the Apocalypse, 
which, coming so soon after the death of St. John, 
would have been most interesting and edifying. Books 
of a philosophical cast are also ascribed to Melito, 
— namely, one "On the Obedience of the Senses 
to Faith," and " On Soul and Body, or of Mind." 
These would make it appear that Melito, with the 
Greek subtlety of mind, had entered on the abstract 
questions of metaphysics, and tried to think out the 
mysteries of human nature, as well as of grace ; and 
thus he was fitted to address an argument or apology 
in favour of the Christians to the Emperor Marcus 
Aurelius, of which three fragments have been copied 
by Eusebius into his Church history. Melito writes 
to complain that by the local decrees of the cities, as 
we may suppose, " the servants of God are persecuted 
throughout Asia. The shameless informers, greedy 
of other men's wealth, avail themselves of the pretext 
of the decrees to plunder openly day and night, rob- 
bing the innocent." After mentioning others of the 
wrongs endured by Christians, he continues : " If this 
is by your order, be it so, it is well done ; a just prince 
never commands what is unjust, and we willingly re- 
ceive the reward of such a death. Our only entreaty is, 



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PAPIAS AND MELITO. 207 

that you should know for yourself who they are who 
are accused of obstinacy, and then judge justly whether 
they are worthy of death and torment, or of safety 
and peace. But if it be not from you that have 
emanated this new counsel and decree, scarcely fit 
indeed to put forth against barbarous enemies, we 
entreat you the more instantly not to abandon us to 
this mob-pillage." 

After this entreaty to the wise and kindly Emperor 
to look into the case for himself, Melito begins to 
defend the faith which its enemies represented as an 
obstinate superstition. 

" Our philosophy," he says, "arose first among bar- 
barians in the great reign of your ancestor Augustus, 
and brought signal blessings to your empire, for since 
that time the Roman State has constantly increased 
in might and glory. You have succeeded happily 
thereto, and together with your son will preserve it, 
if you will keep this philosophy, which arose with the 
empire, and which your forefathers respected together 
with other religions. And the greatest proof that our 
faith has flourished for good together with the empire 
is, that no reverse has befallen you since the time of 
Augustus, but that all has been prosperity and glory, 
according to the prayer of all. Nero and Domitian 
alone, by the persuasion of designing men, would 
have decried our doctrine, and from their time false- 
hood and calumny have been allowed to prevail 
against us by an unreasonable custom. But the piety 
of your fathers has corrected that blindness, often 
rebuking by letter those who dared to make fresh 



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2o8 PAPIAS AND MEUTO. 

attempts against us. Hadrian, your grandfather, 
wrote amongst others to Fundanus, pro-consul of 
Asia; and your father, when you governed jointly 
with him, wrote to several cities respecting us ; among 
others to the Larisseans, the Thessalonians, the 
Athenians, and to all Greeks. You hold the same 
opinions, and even some still more humane and philo- 
sophical, and we are assured that you will grant us 
what we ask." 

Marcus Aurelius, to whom Melito addressed this 
appeal, was in fact one of the purest and gentlest 
characters of ancient history. He was actuated by a 
strong sense of duty, and was always examining him- 
self to see whether he came up to the standard 
which his philosophy was supposed to have thought 
out, but which had derived more from Christian truth 
than he understood. There are few sadder things in 
the world than his meditations, showing his anxious, 
earnest effort to do right — with no hope, no future, 
and his eyes blinded to the brightness that was 
abroad in the world. But the praise granted to his 
clemency and justice was well merited, and Melito 
had further ingeniously pleaded his cause by showing 
that the Christians had chiefly suffered in the reigns 
of terror of Nero and Domitian, from which they, in 
common with the whole empire, had been relieved 
by the upright princes from whom, by adoption, 
Aurelius derived the purple. 

Nor was the appeal unsuccessful. The persecution 
in Asia Minor was checked by a letter, apparently 
sent in answer to an inquiry from the Asiatic cities. 



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PAPIAS AND MELITO. 209 

" The Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
Augustus, Supreme Pontiff, for the fifteenth time 
tribune of the people, for the third time consul, to the 
commonwealth of Asia, greeting : — 

" I know that the gods themselves take care that 
these persons should not remain concealed, for it is 
more their interest than yours to punish such as refuse 
to adore them. By bringing these men into trouble, 
you strengthen their opinion of you when they accuse 
you of impiety. They would rather be apparently 
accused and die for their God than live. Thus they 
come off conquerors, lavishing their lives rather than 
yield what you ask of them. As to earthquakes, past 
or present, it is well to warn you that you are terrified 
at them, and yet you compare yourselves to men who 
only thereby become more confident in their God, 
instead of which, when nothing warns you, you neglect 
the gods and the worship of the Immortal, and per- 
secute to the death the Christians who honour Him. 
Many governors of provinces wrote to my divine 
father respecting these people, and he forbade them 
to molest them, unless they should appear to attempt 
anything against the Roman empire. Many likewise 
have written to me, and I answered them according 
to my father's intention. Should any fresh accusation 
be brought against a Christian, let the accused be 
sent away pardoned, even though he be convicted, 
and let there be an action against the delator." 

Thus it would appear, if this letter be genuine, that 
the candid mind of Aurelius had at this time accepted 
the inoffensive lives of the Christians as arguments 

P 



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2IO PAPIAS AND MELITO. 

in their favour, and there was a period of compara- 
tive peace, during which Melito probably died, as 
there is no certain record of his having been a 
martyr. 

In contrast with the simple literal-minded Syrian 
Papias, and the learned philosophical Greek Melito, 
may be mentioned Theophilus, who was Bishop of 
Antioch at this same time, and who — while Melito 
seems to have scarcely known the Old Testament in 
his earlier days — seems by his own confession to have 
chiefly learnt faith through the prophecies, and who 
quotes the older Scriptures far more than the newer. 

Some have even thought him to have been born 
a Jew, and brought up a Sadducee, and that when 
the writings of the prophets first came before him, 
they taught him to enter into the Christian hope of 
the Resurrection, which before had been a stumbling- 
block to him. All that is really known of him is 
that he was the sixth Bishop of Antioch after St. 
Peter, and that he wrote three letters to endeavour to 
convert a heathen friend named Autolycus, a learned 
and eloquent man, who was wont to study day and 
night, but who was greatly prejudiced against the 
Christians. These letters have been preserved until our 
time, and are valuable for the picture they give of the 
mind of Theophilus himself, and of the arguments 
that had convinced him. 

After disclaiming all attempt at fine writing, where 
he was so much in earnest, Theophilus confesses 
himself a Christian, and goes on to argue that 
the Gentiles' inability to understand and see the 



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PAPIAS AND MEUTO, 211 

truths he avowed lay in their own eyes. "If you say, 
* Show me thy God/ I reply, * Show yourself a man, 
(i, e. be yourself all that manhood can be) and I will 
show you my God. A man must have a pure soul 
before he can see God.' " Then he explains that as 
the life itself is unseen, but is perceived throughout 
the body, so God is to be traced in His providence 
and works. So is the presence of a pilot on a ship, of 
the sun in the sky, of a king in a kingdom. 

Having gone through the enumeration of the works 
of nature, in which he perceives the Divine hand, he 
proceeds to show the impurity of the false deities 
that had hitherto satisfied the heathen : " The names 
of your gods are names of dead men, and those of 
evil character: Kronos devoured his children," — and 
so on with the foul fables that had attached them- 
selves to the rest. 

From this, returning rather abruptly to the reproach 
of the Christian name, he derives it from "the Anoint- 
ing," which did in truth form the name of Christ, and 
pleads that whereas a ship, a tower, a house were 
always anointed by way of consecration, so man is 
anointed with Light and Spirit, and thus "we are 
called Christians because we are anointed with the 
oil of God;' 

His second letter is occupied with exposing the 
numerous inconsistencies of popular mythology, which 
utterly destroyed all credibility, since the poets and 
story-tellers contradicted each other, though " some- 
times they wakened up in their souls and spake things 
in harmony with the prophets with regard to the 

P 2 



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Z12 PAP/AS AND MEL/TO. 

monarchy of God, the Judgment, and such like. 
The prophets were holy men inspired of God, and 
spoke always in harmony with each other." 

Well may he contrast the confused legends of 
Greek literature with the perfect accordance of the 
many writers of the Old Testament ! And in like 
manner he proceeds to expound the first chapters of 
Genesis, first literally and then figuratively, showing 
the evidences of their truth in the existing order of 
things, and tracing the fragments of old recollection 
of these things to be found among the heathen poets 
themselves. 

Still, in the third letter, it seems that Autolycus 
viewed Christian opinions as foolishness, and Theo- 
philus therefore sets to work to prove their antiquity ; 
first, however, speaking of the horrid stories that the 
heathens told of the private life of the Christians, 
and not merely denying them and quoting Scripture 
denunciations of such crimes, but carrying the war 
into the enemy's quarters, by showing that the very 
horrors they pretended to hate, in Christians were 
admired and commemorated in their gods. He then 
shows by much learned historical discussion that 
Moses and all the prophets taught and wrote long 
before Homer, the earliest Greek poet, and therefore 
that the innovation was not the faith of the Scripture, 
but the Greek imaginations. 

What effect this treatise had on Autolycus is not 
known ; but though it contained many blunders in 
Greek literature, it was on the whole of such force, 
ability, and weight, as to be valued enough by the 



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PAPIAS AND MELITO. 213 

Christians to be preserved in their libraries when 
many other works of the same kind have perished. 

The mode of Theophilus' death is not known, but 
the Church of Antioch reckons him as her bishop 
for thirteen years. 



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CHAPTER XIV, 

THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

** Thy Martyrs sanctified the guilty host 
The sons of blessed John rear'd on a Western coast." 

J. H. Newman. 

TiJE promise to Smyrna had been that her tribulation 
should only last ten days, and, accordingly, the per- 
secution died away after the death of the crowned 
martyr Polycarp. 

But the Church of St. John had spread its branches 
much further than over the Levantine shore. The 
first civilized colonists of Gaul had been Greek in 
blood and language, and the cities that had sprung 
up were as full of Greeks as of Romans, even after the 
whole country had been subdued by the arms of 
Caesar. Provincia, or the Province, the country around 
the curving gulf of the Mediterranean Sea, was filled 
with cities adorned with all that could minister to 
amusement or luxury, interspersed with many a fair 
and costly villa, where the Roman nobles, surrounded 
with ingenious slaves, lived an easy life of literary 
retirement, reading and writing verses, taking short 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 1215 

rides or chariot drives, and concerning themselves 
with their fish-ponds, their gardens, or tlieir fountains ; 
now and then driving into the city to seat themselves 
in the amphitheatre, and watch the sports, dramas, 
races, music, sea-fights, shows, or wild beast battles 
that were offered to amuse the people by magistrates 
or candidates for the magistracy. The Gauls, once 
so brave and fierce, had adopted the Latin customs, 
dress, and language. Their ancient chiefs had been 
deprived of their leadership, and sought honour as 
Roman citizens and magistrates; their youths were 
numbered in the Roman legions far from home, and 
their clansmen worked on farms, or became artisans 
and mechanics in the towns. 

These cities, whose Latin names and mighty Roman 
buildings endure to this day, were held by guards of 
soldiers usually from distant lands, and inhabited by 
the officials of government, as well as by a mixed 
people of Greeks, Latins, Jews, and Gauls, who prac- 
tised the arts of life. Temples had been reared to the 
gods of the empire, and endeavours had been made to 
identify the Gaulish deities with them; the Druids 
and their mysterious rites had been swept out by 
Roman power, and only lurked in the wild coasts of 
the far North-west, and Roman uniformity and dis- 
cipline reigned. 

But the old Celtic faith, however adulterated by 
the Druids, had grander and purer notions of the 
Deity than Roman mythology inspired in these late 
days, and the Gauls could hardly bend their spirits 
to endure the gross idolatry that was forced upon 



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2i6 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

them by their conquerors. So in early times, while 
apostles were still on earth, the voice of the glad 
tidings was welcomed in the Province, and Trophimus, 
the faithful companion of St Paul, is counted as the 
earliest bishop of the grand old city of Arelate, or 
Aries. Ephesian as he was, and with a congregation 
more Greek and Gallo-Greek than Latin, he would 
naturally turn to his own city for his supplies of 
fellow-workers, and would receive from thence the 
hymns and forms of praise and prayer there used, 
rather than those in Latin which were framed for the 
Christians of Rome. 

Trophimus seems to have been gathered to rest in 
peace, when the Church in Gaul was already planted 
and other Greek Asiatics had come over from his 
native home, among whom was Pothinus, an inti- 
mate friend of Polycarp, and nearly of the same age, 
so that he had probably been a pupil of St. John. He 
became Bishop of Lugdunum, or Lyons, and was 
surrounded by a congregation almost entirely Greek- 
speaking, and in time he was joined by a young 
minister named Irenaeus, who was an especial pupil 
of Polycarp, and who brought to Gaul many tradi- 
tions both of the doings and sayings of Polycarp and 
Papias, and likewise of those that they had told him 
of St. John himself, and of such other Apostles and 
witnesses of our Lord's miracles as had lived to their 
own time. 

It would seem that the Church of Provincia was 
left unmolested for many years ; and Pothinus had 
reached a great age in peace before the restless alarm 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. .217 

of heathenism in the troublous times of Marcus Aure- 
lius brought persecution down upon the Gauls, and a 
sharp trial fell upon the Churches about five years 
later than the Apology of Melito. 

The good Bishop of Sardis had appealed to the 
prosperity of the empire as a token of the divinity 
of Christianity. It was an unfortunate argument, for 
already that prosperity was rapidly passing away. 
Troubles of every kind were crowding upon the 
Roman dominion ; there were famines, in many 
quarters, terrific earthquakes, and a pestilence pre- 
vailed of a deadly form hitherto unknown, sweeping 
off a whole army at once, and making such havoc 
that the Roman world is thought never to have re- 
covered it For the old vigour of the nation had long 
ago departed ; the ancient families were worn out, and 
the young men, with little worthy occupation set 
before them, wasted their health and threw away their 
lives in disgraceful amusements. The ladies of rank 
were exceedingly corrupt, worse even than the men. 
Aurelius* own wife Faustina had been a flagrantly 
dissolute woman ; and, unfortunately, she had a son 
of evil promise to the empire, so that Aurelius could 
not, like the last four emperors, adopt a worthy heir 
to protect the empire. All round the frontier lay 
tribes of barbarian nations — ^the Parthian, the Sarma- 
tian, the German, the Frank, the Celt, like beasts of 
prey ready to spring into the sheepfold ; and those 
within had been trained into helplessness, and taught 
to trust themselves entirely to their watch-dogs the 
r paid soldiery, who had suffered so heavily from the 



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2i8 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

pestilence, that it was scarcely possible to fill up 
their ranks. 

It was a time of " men's hearts failing them for fear, 
and for looking for those things that were coming on 
the earth ;" and the failing hearts of the heathen turned 
back with fervour to the old false gods whom they had 
abandoned, not from conviction, but from indifference. 
The worship of all the deities who were thought to 
have power to aid them in this strait was revived. 
Bulls, goats, and lambs were offered at their altars ; 
and in Asia Minor, Asclepios, the mock saviour, the 
serpent-god on Satan*s seat, was fervently invoked by 
the sick. Strange fresh experiments were made in 
healing, savouring of magic ; and, as some think, in 
the vain hope of rivalling Christian miracles, as the 
magicians of Egypt withstood Moses. Above all, 
the cry was : " Perish the Christians ; their defiance 
of the gods has brought this evil upon us." 

Marcus Aurelius himself— just, honest, conscientious, 
merciful, with an idea of good such as no unaided 
philosophy could have taught him, and ever examining 
himself to see if he came up to it, and grieving at his 
own failures — was yet offended that any should pre- 
sume to fail in respect to the gods of their forefathers. 
He himself had thought far too deeply to believe the 
wild coarse tales of his mythology, but the system 
was there for the public good : he himself conformed 
to it as a matter of discipline and duty, and who were 
these men who presumed to refuse that to which 
he could bend, and who treated the State religion 
with abhorrence? He viewed their refusal as a 



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. THE WITNESSES IN GA UL, 219 

political offence, and no longer restrained their frantic 
foes. 

In Gaul fell the stress of this persecution. In the 
account written by the Church of Lugdunum and 
Vienne we hear how the danger gradually worked up 
— ^the Christians found themselves shut out from the 
baths and the forum, where they had hitherto freel)^ 
resorted, and even from the houses of friends. Then 
they were forbidden to be seen anywhere, were hooted, 
pelted and reviled when they went into the streets, 
and afterwards entirely confined to their houses. Many 
were afterwards arrested by soldiers and carried to the 
forum, where they were examined by the magistrates 
in presence of all their enemies, and, having confessed 
their faith, were committed to prison to await the 
arrival of the governor of Provincia. 

When he arrived, so savage and unjust was the 
temper in which he showed himself ready to treat the 
prisoners, that a young Gaulish noble named Vettius 
Epigathus, who held the rank of first senator of the 
Gauls, but was himself a Christian and a man of 
blameless life, rose up among the magistrates, under- 
taking to prove that his brethren were free of all 
crimes against the State. Some of the magistrates 
cried, " Out upon him ! " and the governor asked if he 
was a Christian. In the clearest voice he answered, 
" Yes ; " and the account says, " He also was taken up 
into the number of the witnesses," or martyrs, but no 
particulars are given, and his high rank would doubt- 
less have caused him to be slain with the sword. 

Evidence against the Christians was wanting, and 



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220 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

the governor endeavoured to obtain it by putting 
their slaves to the torture, both Christian and Pagan. 
About ten of the Christian slaves, among them a 
woman named Biblis, yielded to the agony, and con- 
firmed the monstrous assertions of the heathen that 
the Christians slew infants, devoured human flesh, and 
practised all sorts of abominations in their assemblies ; 
and the reports of these confessions excited the popu- 
lace so that they raged against them like wild beasts. 
The special objects of their fury were a deacon 
of Vienne, named Sanctus ; a new convert, called 
Maturus ; a man of the name of Attalus from the 
faithful city of Pergamus, and thus heir to the mes- 
sage to the victorious there ; and Blandina, a slave 
girl. It seems as if Sanctus was also suspected of 
being a slave, for these two were examined by the 
most horrible tortures. Blandina was of slight and 
delicate frame ; and her lady, a Christian herself, but 
not detected, fully expected that she would give way ; 
but such grace was given to her that her constancy 
wearied out one tormentor after another, and she 
seemed to feel none of the varied anguish inflicted 
on her, while she still cried out, ** I am a Christian, 
and no evil is done among us," without letting any 
pain draw any other words from her. In like manner 
the only reply of Sanctus to questions whether he 
were bond or free, where he was born, and of what 
nation, was in Latin, " Christianas sum,'' even while 
such injuries were inflicted that he lay a shrunken, 
distorted, crushed, burnt, almost shapeless mass of 
humanity; and in this state, a few days after, the 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 221 

torture was again applied, the tormentors thinking, 
that when reduced in strength, and by his wounds 
smarting, he must give way ; but he proved to have 
so recovered his energies that the new wrenching of his 
limbs seemed to restore their use, and he returned in a 
better state than when he was carried to the torture. 

Biblis, who had yielded and denied her faith out of 
terror, was tortured in order to obtain fresh deposi- 
tions from her, but the rack seemed to wake her as 
from a sleep. She thought of the miseries of hell- 
fire so much more terrible and enduring than those 
she was undergoing, and thus deriving fortitude from 
her very fears, she confessed herself a Christian, 
abstained from uttering a word of accusation, and 
showed constancy that won back her place amid the 
glorious army of martyrs. 

Those who were not examined by torments were 
cruelly used in prison, placed in the stocks so as 
to stretch their limbs frightfully, ill-fed, and heaped 
together in noisome cells, where numbers died. The 
venerable Bishop Pothinus, ninety years old, and in 
broken health, with a heavy oppression on his breath, 
was captured, and dragged by the soldiers to the 
judgment-seat, followed by a cruel, malicious multi- 
tude, who beat him with sticks and threw stones at 
him, but he answered undauntedly. And when he 
was asked, " Who is the God of the Christians ? " he 
replied, ** If thou art worthy, thou shalt know." 

Beaten, with clothes torn and covered with mire, 
hardly able to breathe, the venerable old man was 
dragged to the dungeon, where his faithful fellow- 



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222 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

sufferers received and tended him until, after two 
days, his life passed from him, in the dark, stifling 
atmosphere, but in calmness, and amid loving friends. 

So died the last pupil of St. John ; and the circle 
of those who sat at his feet on earth had all won 
their crown, their white robe and palm : the reclaimed 
robber, the child-like nursling of the Apostle, the 
acute philosophical Athenian, the undaunted cham- 
pion of Smyrna, and the gentle, worn-out old shepherd 
of Lugdunum, had all fought their fight in different 
ways, and stood before the throne, " each leading 
many a rescued soul." 

The train of Pothinus, who were preceded by him 
to the heavenly shore by only a few days, was 
specially glorious. The prison was not only filled 
with the constant-hearted Christians who had braved 
the worst, but with those persons who had consented 
to deny their faith, and who were detained as having 
committed ordinary crimes. These, in the sight of 
their more courageous brethren, repented bitterly; 
and while those who had confessed were full of hope, 
boldness, and joy, they were miserably downcast, fear- 
ful, ahd unhappy, and were reproached and derided 
for their cowardice by the heathen themselves. 

One of the prisoners, whose name was Alcibiades, 
had always spent a very austere life, thinking it one 
of the duties of self-denial to confine himself at all 
times to a bread-and-water diet, and tasting nothing 
else. When, however, he tried to continue this sys- 
tem in the prison, Attalus, while lying exhausted 
after his tortures, felt it borne in on his soul, by, as 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 223 

he deemed (and none can say that it was untruly), 
the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Alcibiades 
was mistaken in refusing to partake of "the good 
creatures of God," as Christians loved to call the food 
created by God for them, and that his example might 
become a stumbling-block to others. 

Nor did Alcibiades show himself proudly set upon 
his own way. He yielded to the representations of 
Attalus, and for the remainder of his days he did as 
St. Paul had long ago enjoined, and partook of what- 
ever was set before him, and "gave God thanks ;" the 
true way of hallowing his sustenance. 

There was a festival-day drawing on, one of those 
that had been instituted in honour of the first Em- 
peror Augustus, and was celebrated every five years 
by sacrifices and games. And the outcry of the 
people was that Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and 
Attalus should be thrown for their amusement to 
the wild beasts in the amphitheatre, of which there 
are still some remains. 

Attalus was a Roman citizen, and the governor 
could therefore only so far yield him to the fury of 
the mob as to cause him to be paraded round the 
amphitheatre, with a tablet before him, bearing the 
words, "Attalus, the Christian." The faithful Per- 
gamene must have thought on the New Name, on 
the White Stone, promised to him that overcometh, 
as he was thus marched round and beheld Blandina 
fastened to a stake — almost like a cross, and placed 
in the midst of the beasts — praying aloud, and thus 
greatly comforting and supporting the rest. Her 



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2Z4 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

unnatural position probably deterred the animals 
from touching her, for they left her alone, while they 
dragged about and mangled Maturus and Sanctus, 
but without killing them. Indeed, as a bull is the 
only creature individually mentioned, it may be con- 
cluded that here, in the provinces, animals of very 
deathly powers did not form part of the stock of the 
amphitheatre. The people continued to shout their 
demands for every infliction that occurred to their 
cruel fancies — lashing with rods, and the red-hot iron 
chain in which the sufferers were roasted alive— but 
not a word was won from Sanctus save his 3teadfast 
" I am a Christian." The whole long day, which was 
generally divided between a variety of sports, was 
spent by this Lyonnese multitude in baiting these 
two unflinching men and the one delicate girl, until 
at night it became their cruel pleasure that Maturus 
and Sanctus should be released by having their 
throats cut, and that Blandina should go back to be 
reserved for their fresh amusement As to Attalus, 
his fate was left undecided till an answer should be 
received from the Emperor as to what was to be 
done with the Roman citizen. 

Aurelius' reply was, that the law must take its 
course ; and thus, on the last day of the shows, when 
a fair was held, to which there came a great concourse 
from every part of Gaul, before all the new comers 
each surviving Christian was led up before the tribunal 
and interrogated. Then, to the surprise and rage of 
the heathen, almost all who had before apostatized 
redeemed their momentary weakness by full confession 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 225 

of the faith, and were led away to their deaths. A 
physician, named Alexander, a native of Phrygia, but 
who had lived for many years in Gaul, and was known 
as a Christian, though he had not yet been appre- 
hended, took his station by the tribunal, and showed 
in his countenance and gestures such intense anxiety 
that a bold confession might be made, that the mob 
broke out against him, and the governor interrogating 
him, learned that he was a Christian, and condemned 
him at once. 

The rule was that a Roman citizen should die by 
the sword, but Attalus was so eagerly demanded by 
the mob, that the governor did not refuse to him 
whatever barbarities their savagery might desire to 
inflict. One more night was spent in the prison, 
where Attalus, Blandina, and Ponticus her brother, a 
boy of fifteen, had certainly spent more than fifteen 
days, during which they had been daily carried out 
to watch the tortures of their brethren. To these 
Alexander was added, but probably they were nearly 
the last. 

They were visited at night by their friends who 
had not been denounced, and who ever remembered 
the tears and entreaties with which they asked their 
prayers that they might be borne through their last 
trial. 

It was likewise recollected that they could not 
bear the term martyr or witness to be applied to 
them. " Only One," they said, " is the faithful and 
true Witness, the Firstborn from the dead. We are 
but mean and humble confessors." 

Q 



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226 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

The next day they were brought out, and Attalus 
and Alexander were placed in the burning iron chain. 
The physician endured to the death in silence, but 
Attalus, almost as if amused while his flesh was roasting 
like meat, said, in allusion to the cannibal tales about 
the Christians, " So, this which ye do is eating men I 
But as for us we neither eat men nor practise any other 
wickedness." He, too, went to his reward ; and Blan- 
dina and Ponticus were then brought out, and tortured 
by every device that heathen cruelty could inflict. 
The sister encouraged the brother throughout till 
his death, and seemed, through the exaltation of her 
spirit, to be insensible to her own torments, as indeed 
might well have been permitted by the physical 
natural working of Providence, since it has become 
known that, after one terrific shock of anguish, the 
nerves become blunted and insensible to the further 
cruelties by which fiendish man would seek to exag- 
gerate suffering. This noble-hearted girl was at length 
placed in a net, and tossed by a bull, and as she was 
still alive afterwards, was killed by the confector, all 
the heathen owning that never had woman endured 
so much. 

A guard was set over the bodies for six days, and 
neither bribes nor entreaties sufficed to obtain them 
for burial. At last they were burnt, and the ashes 
swept into the Rhone; the heathen declaring that 
this was done to deprive them of the chance of 
resurrection. In after times, however, a Church, now 
the cathedral of Lyons, was built over the vault of 
their captivity. 



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THB WITNESSES IN GAUL. 227 

Two of the congregation of Lyons had escaped, 
one named Marcellus to Chdlons, and Valerian to 
Tournus, but both were overtaken and put to death. 

All this is recorded in a letter from the Church of 
Lyons, written almost in the midst of the martyrdoms, 
to the mother Church in Asia. A much later writer 
gives the story of two young friends, named Epipodius 
and Alexander, who resided in the same city, the 
former being a Gaul, the latter a Greek, and both of 
the rank to which the prefix Clarissimtis was given. 
They had been schoolfellows, and had grown up 
from childhood in the closest affection. When the 
alarm came, they were just approaching manhood, and 
together they resolved to endeavour to escape the 
danger. They made their way out of the gates in 
secret, and took refuge at a village, where a Christian 
widow received and sheltered them in her cottage ; 
but they had been accused, search was made for them, 
and they were found, attempting to fly, with all the 
eagerness of youths whose lives were dear to them. 

When once they knew it was the will of Heaven 
that they should thus early suffer, there was no more 
shrinking; they resolutely marched back to Lyons, 
and were thrown into prison without interrogation. 

Three days later, they were led, with their hands 
tied behind them, to the tribunal, where their avowal 
that they were Christians was heard with shouts of 
fury from the bystanders; and the magistrate ex- 
claimed, " What is the use of all our tortures, if men 
are still audacious enough to follow the doctrine of 
Christ?" He perceived that the two young friends 



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228 THE WITNESSES IN GA UL. 

were encouraging one another by looks and signs, 
and therefore he separated them, and leading apart 
Epipodius, who was the youngest of the two, he tried 
to allure him by fair promises, such as he thought 
might tempt a lad, who had certainly not hurried to 
meet death with the eagerness shown by some. 

" You must not perish through obstinacy," he said, 
" We adore the immortal gods, who are honoured by 
all people and princes ; and who are worshipped by 
joy, by feasts, by music, games and amusements. 
You adore a crucified Man, who cannot be pleased 
by your enjoyment, but rejects joy, loves fasts, and 
condemns pleasure. What good can you expect from 
One who could not save Himself from the most 
miserable of deaths } Quit such austerity, and enjoy 
the happiness of this world with the delight befitting 
your age ! " 

"You know not," replied Epipodius, "that our 
eternal Lord jESUS CHRIST rose again after His Cruci- 
fixion, and being, by an ineffable mystery, both God 
and Man, hath opened the gate of eternal life to His 
own people. But are you blind enough not to know 
that we ourselves are of two parts, soul and body.^ 
Our souls rule our bodies, but the revels you enjoin 
in honour of your idols please the body, and slay the 
soul." 

Such words so enraged the governor that he caused 
the lad to be struck on the mouth; on which he cried 
aloud, " I confess that jESUS CHRIST is God with the 
Father and the Holy Ghost. It is meet that I resign 
to Him tJie soul He ransomed." 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 229 

Upon this Epipodius was sentenced to be hung on 
a rack, and his flesh lacerated with iron hooks ; but 
as he endured in silent patience, the people clamoured 
for leave to overwhelm him with stones, and the 
governor caused his head to be cut off. 

Alexander was sent back to his solitary dungeon 
for two days, and then again brought before the 
judge, who told him, by way of inducing him to 
change, that there were no Christians left Alexander 
answered that, on the contrary, the faith, if preserved 
by men's life, was extended by their death. He, too, 
was cruelly tortured, and finally crucified, with his 
Saviour's Name on his lips. 

So says Eucherius, who wrote the Acts of these 
martyrs when Bishop of Lyons, in the fifth century. 
It is possible that he may have learnt their answers 
from documents preserved at Lyons; but it is also 
possible that the story may have been half remem- 
bered, half invented. There is nothing unlikely in it, 
except that noble youths should have been so savagely 
tortured ; and even this was possible, in the morbid 
state of barbarous rage to which the populace and 
governor had worked themselves; but still the evidence 
is not such as that by which we know of the glorious 
constancy of Attains, Blandina, and the rest 

Either the governor really thought he had destroyed 
Christianity in Lyons and Vienne, or, by the end of 
the games, the people were sick of horrors, for there 
were no more accusations there ; but the persecution 
had extended further, and Provincia had not been the 
only scene of martyrdom. 



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230 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 

According to the records of Gaul, collected into a 
history by Bishop Gregory of Tours, the city of 
Augustodunum, now shortened into Autun, likewise 
suffered. It was one of the oldest towns in Gaul ; 
it had been, under the name of Bibracte, a fortress 
even before the Roman conquest, and had since been 
adorned with all the Latin splendour, and contained a 
college where the youths ot Gaul were sent to study 
Latin and Greek poetry, philosophy, and rhetoric. 
Hither, according to the belief of the place, came a 
disciple of Polycarp, named Benignus, whose teaching 
collected together the first Church of Burgundy. 
Among his converts was the family of a Gallo-Roman 
noble, named Faustus, whose son Symphorian was 
distinguished for his learning and scholarship, nor 
does his Christianity seem to have led him to relax in 
the cultivation of his mind. 

Since the Romans had held Autun, they had dedi- 
cated the city to their gods. In fact they always 
mixed up the gods of the people whom they con- 
quered with their own, and the people of Autun had 
been taught to adore Cybele, the mother of the gods, 
together with Apollo and Diana as their tutelary 
deities. Every year the car of Cybele made a state 
progress through the city, bearing the image of the 
Mother Goddess, with a crown of towers on her head, 
a veil over her face, and a lion by her side ; while her 
votaries, with drums, and cymbals, and horns, danced 
wildly in full armour round her chariot. Such at least 
was the manner of her festival in the Eastern lands, in 
which she had first been adored as an emblem of the 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 231 

veiled, tower-crowned, teeming mother earth, and no 
doubt such were the main features of the ceremonies 
decreed, when the hollow show of worship to her was 
transplanted into the Western land, where it was un- 
congenial and unmeaning, though the excitable Gaul 
might work himself up to shriek and dance, and revel 
in the foul excesses that formed a regular part of the 
orgies of the goddess. 

These feasts, hateful to Christians for their idolatry, 
and doubly so for their impurity, were often regarded 
as tests of their loyalty to the State. And when the 
car of Cybele had made its progress, the mob be- 
thought them that the scholar Symphorian had made 
no obeisance to the image. They seized upon him, 
and dragged him to the tribunal of Heraclius, the 
governor, shouting that he was a seditious wretch who 
refused worship to the Roman gods. 

Heraclius, after hearing that he was a Christian, 
asked whether he were a citizen of the place ; and 
being answered that he was so, and of a noble 
family, said, "No doubt you reckon on your rank, 
and perhap3 you know not the Emperor's decree. Let 
it be read." 

It was read, and as Symphorian continued un- 
moved, he was beaten by the lictors with their rods, 
and sent to prison, whence he was brought two days 
later before Heraclius, who promised him that he 
should receive a reward from the public treasury, and 
an honourable post in the army, if he would cast in- 
cense upon the altar of the goddess, which was about 
to be decked with flowers for the purpose. The 



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232 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL 

Christian's reply expressed his scorn both of the 
offers of the governor, and of the impure worship 
of Cybele, with the absurd superstitions connected 
therewith ; and Heraclius pronounced his sentence of 
decapitation. 

As usual, he was led outside the walls to suffer 
execution. On the way, as he walked in the midst 
of the soldiers, guarded on either side by the lictors, 
with their bundles of rods and the fatal axe, there 
was a cry from the walls, " My son." The procession 
paused, and those who looked up saw the face of the 
mother of Symphorian gazing from the walls. But it 
was not in weak, wailing despair, that she called 
aloud, " My son ! my son Symphorian, remember the 
living God, and stand fast even to the end. Lift up 
thy heart and look to Him who reigneth in the 
heavens. Fear not. They will not take thy life this 
day ; they will but change it for the better." 

Those were the last words that the martyr son 
heard from his brave mother. The spot was reached, 
and, kneeling, he received the sword-blow that bore 
him to his " better life." His body was buried near 
a fountain close to the field set apart for public exer- 
cises, — and in the fifth century a church was built 
over it. 

His teacher, St. Benignus, was slain in the same 
persecution. 

With the games, the fury of the heathen seemed to 
have exhausted itself, and Marcus Aurelius himself 
slackened the persecution, struck perhaps by con- 
stancy exceeding all that he had heard of, and perhaps 



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THE WITNESSES IN GAUL. 233 

feeling that he was destroying the greatest valour left 
to the empire. It was also thought by the Christians, 
that he was further moved to clemency by an ad- 
venture in his campaign on the Danube, when his 
whole army was reduced to terrible suffering by thirst, 
and in the utmost extremity. While his Christian 
soldiers were praying, a thunderstorm, with plentiful 
rain, relieved them. The column with which Aurelius 
commemorated his exploits testifies to the event, for 
in one compartment the rain is seen falling, and the 
soldiers eagerly catching it ; but the mercy is there 
ascribed to the Roman god, Jupiter Pluvius ; and 
those who believed in Egyptian magic said it was 
the work of their sorcerers. Moreover, the name of 
the Thundering Legion, which was often adduced as a 
proof that the Christian division of the army was 
believed to have invoked the storm, has been shown 
to have been a much older title. Yet, still we know 
that the Christians alone had the power of rightly 
addressing Him who granted the rain, and some 
lurking impression on the part of Aurelius may have 
caused him to relax his severity. 

The life of this Emperor was fast waning. He was 
a man of fair ability, but not of the extraordinary 
power that would have been needed to cope with the 
decayed state of the empire, and the strength of the 
enemies who closed him in. No one nation was a match 
for the Romans ; but while he was quelling one foe, 
another broke in whenever his back was turned, and 
the worn-out state of Rome afforded him no able 
generals or counsellors to supply his place. 



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234 THE WITNESSES IN GAUL, 

Fatigue and disappointment broke his strength of 
body, and scrupulous conscientiousness was wearing 
out his mind. All was dark around him, and on the 
future rested the vaguest, saddest uncertainty. Un- 
consciously, in morals and in his longing for perfec- 
tion, Aurelius had been a pupil of St John and of the 
other Appstles, but from their truths, their hopes, he 
turned aside ; his mind darkened by habit, by old 
Roman pride, and by the doubting spirit engendered 
by philosophy. One of his last compositions wa$ a 
sad little poem, asking his soul whither it would go 
when it fluttered forth into the night; and, when 
hardly arrived at middle age, he fell sick of a fever, 
which, coming upon health already failing, speedily 
closed his life in the year i8o. Weary and sick of 
this world, he closed his eyes on it with contented re- 
signation, but oh ! how different from the gladness 
that shone through the lives, and brightened the most 
agonising deaths of those whom he " counted as mad- 
men, and their end to be witliout honour." 



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CHAPTER XV. 

IRENiBUS, THE CHAMPION OF THE FAITIL 

" From new-boiB Lyons oft thy memory tum'd 
Unto the earlier East, and fondly yeamVl 
For Polycarp and Smyrna, and the youth 
'Of grave Religion fair.** 

Rev. J. Williams. 

Still there remained one who, if he had not him- 
self sat at the feet of St John, had at least eagerly 
gathered up all that could be told of the great Evan- 
gelist by his immediate pupils, Polycarp and Papias ; 
and thus may be reckoned as almost one of his direct 
disciples. 

Irenaeus was no doubt of Greek extraction, and a 
native of one of the cities of Asia Minor, most pro- 
bably Smyrna. His name, meaning '* Peaceful," was, it 
may be supposed, chosen for him by Christian parents 
at his baptism ; and he was instructed from his early 
youth by St Polycarp, under whose advice he seems 
to have studied, not only Christian truths such as are 
needful for the salvation of all believers, but also to 
have inquired into the numerous varieties of heresy, 
the different systems of philosophy, and the varieties 
of mythology, so as to be filled for argument and 



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236 IRENjEUSy THE CHAMPION OF THE FAITH, 

refutation of error. He was said to be one of the 
most learned of men in all kinds of doctrine. 

He was still young when he was sent by the 
Eastern Church to strengthen their mission in Western 
Gaul, which, as already said, was under the charge of 
the aged Pothinus. It appears, from what Irenaeus 
says of himself later, that his mission was not con- 
fined to the Greek and Latin-speaking, cultivated 
society of Lyons, but that he applied himself to 
conquer the many difficulties of the harsh, uncouth 
Celtic, with its strange inflections and complicated 
grammar — probably resembling Gaelic, for the Gauls 
of Provincia are believed to have more resembled the 
Scottish than the Welsh Celts. In time he came to 
use this "barbarous tongue" more frequently than his 
soft, native Greek ; and such pains on his part must 
have told much upon the warm-hearted Celtic people, 
who were accustomed to hear their language treated 
with contempt, and to transact their affairs in half- 
understood Latin. It may have been from having 
heard Irenaeus speak " in their own tongue the won- 
derful works of God," that not merely the priest, the 
senator, the physician, were so firm in the dreadful 
conflict that ensued, but the slave girl and boy and 
the lowest of the people were equally resolute. 

Irenaeus seems to have worked as a priest until the 
year 177, when he was chosen by the Church of 
Lyons to go on a mission to Rome. The old discus- 
sion about the time of observing the feast of Easter 
had broken out again, and the contention had become 
so hot that it was feared that the Roman Church 



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IRENjEUS, the champion of the faith 237 

would refuse to communicate with the Greek, which 
still continued to keep the great Resurrection-day on 
the fourteenth day of the Paschal moon, instead of 
making it always fall on a Sunday. 

The Churches of Provincia, living in the West, yet 
with Eastern sympathies, were very fit to mediate 
between the two parties, and to entreat them, since 
they were of the same faith, not to break the unity of 
the Church for what could not be regarded as essen- 
tial. Irenaeus was therefore to be despatched to plead 
with Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome, on behalf of the 
Churches of Asia Minor, and likewise to protest 
against the errors of a certain Montanus, a Greek, who 
was promulgating mischievous follies under the pre- 
tended authority of two women whom he had set up 
as prophetesses. And a letter was also to be written 
to the Churches of Asia. 

It seems to have been just as this was determined 
on that the terrible games described in the last 
chapter took place, and the Christians of note were 
hunted out and thrown into their dungeons. Irenaeus 
was not, however, found by the persecutors, and re- 
mained probably hidden or disguised, and not without 
communication with his friends in the prison. The 
letters were carried on through all — the sufferings and 
triumphs of the first to pass away were recorded by 
those who survived them, and, though finished by 
other hands, the protests and the arguments were 
those of the martyrs themselves. 

The entire letters have been lost ; all that remains 
is the narrative part which Eusebius copied into his 



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238 IRENjEUS, the CHAMPION OF THE FAITH, 

history, from the epistle to the Churches of Asia and 
Phrygia. Some think they were composed by 
Irenseus himself. At any rate, so soon as the fury of 
the heathen relaxed, he went upon his journey to 
Rome, and succeeded in his mission, for the Pope 
Eleutherius agreed to bear with the Greek customs ; 
and some years later the follies of Montanus were 
condemned. At Rome, however, Irenaeus had the 
pain of meeting Florinus, an old friend and fellow- 
pupil of Polycarp, who had become a priest at Rome, 
but had fallen into the error, to which many Eastern 
minds were prone, of imagining that the author of 
evil was of equal power with the God of Beneficence. 
On being deposed from his office for false teaching, 
Florinus had collected a set of followers around him 
and formed a sect ; while another priest, named 
Blastus, was trying to bring his own admirers back to 
the old bondage of the Judaical law. 

Grieved at these errors, and at the rents they made 
in that unity of the Church, which the early Christians 
prized so highly and loved to liken to the seamless 
coat of Christ, Irenaeus returned home, revolving, over 
Alpine pass, or on Mediterranean waves, how to 
reply to and refute these errors, and perchance bring 
back to the fold the old companion over whom his 
heart yearned. 

On his return, he found that the surviving Chris- 
tians of Lyons, lifting up their heads again, had 
decided on electing him as their bishop in the place 
of the martyred Pothinus — the post, above all others, 
of championship and of danger. 



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IRENjEUS, the champion of the faith 239 

When he was settled in his new office, he wrote the 
two letters he had resolved on ; one to Blastus, 
entitled ** Schism," and one to Florinus, upon " The 
Monarchy or Unity of God, and that God is not the 
Author of Sin." Both have been lost, but Euse- 
bius has quoted a passage from the latter, in which 
Irenaeus reminds Florinus how both had received 
the instructions of Polycarp, when boys at Smyrna ; 
adding, that he himself remembered the things that 
then took place better than the more recent ones. 
"The lessons we receive in childhood," he says, 
" grow up with the soul, and become one with it, so 
that I could tell you the place where the blessed 
Polycarp used to sit when he taught, his going out 
and coming in, his manner of life, his face and figure, 
his discourse to the people, how he told us of his 
living with John, and with others who had seen the 
Lord ; how he repeated their words, and what he had 
learnt from them concerning the Lord, His mighty 
works, and His doctrine. For Polycarp, having received 
all from eye-witnesses of the Word of Life, uttered 
everything in harmony with Holy Scripture. These 
things, by the grace of God, I diligently listened to, 
noting them down not on paper, but in my heart ; and 
ever, by the grace of God, I feed upon them again 
and again. And I bear witness before God. that had 
the blessed and apostolical old man heard such doc- 
trine as you have put forth, he would have cried out 
and stopped his ears, and, uttering the familiar phrase, 
* O God, to what hast Thou reserved me, that I should 
hear such things/ he would have fled the place," 



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240 irenjEUs, the champion of the faith. 

It IS said that Florinus was touched by this letter, 
and the appeal to his younger days, but that, being 
a vain and unstable man, he soon after was attracted 
by the teaching of one Valentinus. This person was 
learned and eloquent, and had preached in Eg^pt, 
where it appears he had become attached to the 
subtle old teaching that had first been censured in 
Simon Magus, and then blossomed out into Gnos- 
ticism. People said that Valentinus was affronted by 
not being elected to a bishopric in Eg^pt ; at any rate, 
he began to teach a newer and more elaborate form 
of Gnosticism, which became known by his name as 
the Valentinian heresy. The Gospel of St. John, the 
opening of which had been written partly for the con- 
futation of the earlier Gnostics, was adopted by these 
later ones, and from the first chapter they pretended 
to prove that Creation was due to an Ogdoad, or 
Octave of Principles, respecting whom they diverged 
into " endless genealogies and questions of names," 
like their predecessors. Marcion, who led one of the 
many sects of the Valentinians, travelled in the cities 
of the Rhone, performed lying miracles, and many 
were in danger of being deluded. 

An old catalogue of Synods of the Church mentions 
one held at Lyons, in which Irenaeus and the other 
Gallican bishops met to pronounce sentence upon the 
false doctrines of Valentinus and Marcion. At any 
rate, Irenaeus, to whom it would seem had descended 
that peculiar leadership that had been held by Igna- 
tius, Polycarp, and perhaps Melito, by inheritance of 
the traditions of St John, stood forth as the champion 



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IREN^US, THE CHAMPION OF THE FAITH 241 

of St John's Gospel, and, in a treatise known as the 
" Book of the Ogdoad," argued with those parties. 

The chief part of this book is lost, we only know 
that it concluded with the following address to whom- 
soever should copy the manuscript : — 

"Thou who shalt transcribe this book, I conjure 
thee, by our Lord jESUS Christ, by His glorious 
Advent, when He shall judge the quick and dead, 
that thou shouldest carefully compare thy writing by 
this very copy, and correct it by the original, and 
that thou shouldest also transcribe this adjuration 
and set it in thy copy." 

From this we gather that the carelessness, and per- 
haps the presumptuous alterations, made by scribes, 
must have been a sore inconvenience to these ancient 
authors, who no doubt often found their meaning 
mischievously misrepresented. Probably the Ogdoad 
was embodied in the larger treatise against heresy, 
which Irenaeus put forth shortly after in the form of 
a letter, evidently to some bishop, to whom he wrote 
in Greek, though only a Latin translation now exists. 

" Look not," he says, " from us who dwell among 
the Celts and chiefly use their barbarous tongue, for 
the art of speech, which we have not studied, neither 
force of style and ornamental words ; but receive with 
charity what I write to you in charity, simplicity, 
and truth, and to which ye will be well able to add, 
being more learned than we are." 

He then in his first book explained the system of 
the Valentinian Gnostics, and showed that the true 
Universal Church extended throughout the world, 

R 



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242 irenjEUS, the champion of the faith. 

mentioning by name the Churches of Germany, Spain, 
Gaul, the East, Egypt, and Lybia, and declaring that 
all are enlightened by the same faith, even as they 
are by the same sun ; and he sets in contrast with this 
oneness the number of' heretics who had appeared, 
naming them all, from Simon Magus downwards. 

His next book is occupied with arguing with them. 
They were not for the most part deniers of the Scrip- 
ture, but they took a parable, or obscure passage, and 
interpreted it by another equally difficult; whereas 
Irenaeus argued that the plain direct verses ought 
to be taken first, and that they would serve to explain 
the more abstruse parts. And he refuted with clear, 
strong argument their extraordinary perversion of the 
first chapter of St. John, 

He then disposes of the false miracles and pro- 
phecies of the Gnostics, by which it appears that they 
made people think they saw phantoms — ^a very com- 
mon trick of impostors — and shows the difference 
between these and the true miracles of healing, which 
he treats as being still frequent in the Church in his 
own time. 

In the third book he shows how continuous has 
been the doctrine of the Church that since St 
Ignatius* time had begun to be called Catholic, 
that is, of and for all true believers. "The Apostles," 
he says, "only preached after having received per- 
fect knowledge;" and he adds, "Matthew gave the 
Hebrews the Gospel written in their tongue, while 
Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and found- 
ing the Church there. After their departure, Mark, 



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IRENjEUS, the champion of the faith. 243 

the disciple and interpreter of Peter, gave us in 
writing that which Peter had spoken; and Luke, 
who had followed Paul, wrote in a book the Gospel 
that Paul had taught. Afterwards John, the Lord's 
own disciple, who had leaned on His breast, also gave 
his Gospel while dwelling at Ephesus, in Asia." 

He explains that St John's Gospel was partly 
called forth in refutation of the errors of Cerinthus, 
the Gnostics, and Nicolaitanes ; and then says that 
there was a great significance in there being four 
Gospels, and applies to thern the Vision of St. John of 
the Living Forms around the Mercy-seat in Heaven. 
For had not David said, when asking for the coming 
of the Christ, " Show Thyself also. Thou that sittest 
between the Cherubim, for the four-shaped Cherubim 
and their countenances are images of the dispensa- 
tion of the Son of God." ..." The Word, Who is the 
worker of all things. Who sitteth above the Cherubim 
and containeth all things, in being manifested in men, 
hath given us the Gospel in the form fourfold, but 
combined by one Spirit'* Here, then, we first find 
the Eagle connected with the height and the depth of 
St John's Gospel. 

Irenaeus goes on to show how heretics sometimes 
argued that they had tradition on their side, and then, 
when refuted on that score, had recourse to Scripture ; 
or, when silenced by Scripture, went back to tradition, 
whereas the Church fearlessly appealed to both. 

" We can reckon," he says, " those whom the 
Apostles established as bishops in their Churches, 
and their successors, even down to ourselves, who 

R2 

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244 IRENjEUS, the CHAMPION OF THE FAITH. 

have taught nothing but what is like these honoured 
ones." He then counts the bishops at Rome, from 
Linus till his own day, adding, " And Polycarp, who 
not only had been taught by the Apostles, and had 
conversed with those who had seen jESUS Christ, but 
had been placed by the Apostles in Asia as Bishop 
of the Church of Smyrna, whom I myself saw in my 
early youth ; for he lived long, and was extremely 
aged when he departed this life by a most glorious 
and renowned martyrdom. He alwtiys taught what 
he had from the Apostles, what the Church teaches, 
and which is the sole truth. All the Churches of Asia, 
and those who have succeeded to the seat of Polycarp, 
testify that he is a witness of the truth, far more 
worthy of credit and more certain than Valentinus 
and Marcion, and all other wanderers. He came to 
Rome in the time of Anicetus, and brought back to 
the Church many of the schismatics of these heretics, 
setting forth that the truth he had heard from the 
Apostles is that which the Church teaches. 

Shortly after he adds, "If there were a dispute 
on any question, should we not recur to the oldest 
Churches where the Apostles have lived ? Or, how if 
the Apostles had left no writings.^ Should we not 
then follow the tradition they left to those to whom 
they entrusted the Churches } This is shown in 
sundry barbarous nations who believe in jESUS 
Christ without paper or ink, having the doctrine 
of salvation written in their hearts by the Holy 
Ghost, and faithfully keeping the ancient tradition 
respecting One God the Creator and His Son jESUS 



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IRENjEUS, the champion of the faith 245 

Christ. Those who have received this faith un- 
written are barbarians in language with regard to 
us ; but as to their opinions and their conduct, they 
are both discreet and acceptable to God, observing 
uprightness and chastity." 

Irenaeus must here be speaking of his own Gallic 
flock, for whose sake he had learnt the language 
so hard for any full-grown person to acquire, and 
who all persevered so bravely to the end with him. 

The doctrine he had proved to be so unanimously 
held he then set forth in his fourth book, following 
apparently the words of what we call the Apostles* 
Creed, though we have no absolute copy of it till a 
century later. He proves these Articles of Faith 
step by step by the words of our Lord, and then 
coming to the Holy Kucharist, he says of our 
Lord, "Having taught His disciples to offer to 
God the first-fruits of His creatures, not as though 
He had need of any, but that they might have the 
blessing of thankfulness. He took bread, which is the 
work of the Creator, and having given thanks, said, 
* This is My Body ; ' ami thus also, having taken the 
cup, also the work of the Creator, He pronounced 
that this is His Blood, and taught the new oblation 
of the New Testament which the Church, having 
received through the Apostles, offers to God through- 
out the world, as it is written in Malachi, * From the 
rising of the sun even unto the going down of the 
same. My name shall be great among the Gentiles, 
and in every place incense shall be offered unto My 
Name and a pure offering.' . . . There are oblations 



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246 IRENJEUS, THE CHAMPION OF THE FAITH. 

here as there were there ; there were sacrifices among 
the people of old, there are sacrifices in the Church ; 
the only sort of change is because we are not ser- 
vants, but freemen, who offer." 

From these declarations of the faith Irenaeus pro- 
ceeds to show the peril of breaking up the unity of 
the Church. "The preaching of the Church is true 
and stedfast, showing to all the world the one true 
way of salvation ; it is the Seven-branched Candle- 
stick, which bears the Light of jESUS CHRIST,*' he 
says, and earnest were his endeavours to set forth 
that Light, to keep it clear, and to hinder the sever- 
ance of any true branch. 

For again the Paschal controversy was waxing hot. 
The inconvenience of two differing Easter-days was 
really vexatious, when Asiatic and Italian Christians 
lived in close contact ; and at Laodicea the visitors 
from Rome seem to have been scandalized by finding 
it was the practice to eat a paschal lamb in the same 
manner as did the Jews. 

Victor, who had become Bishop of Rome, took the 
matter up warmly, and tried to enforce uniformity, 
declaring that "the Church should have nothing in 
common with the Jews" — a bold assertion, consi- 
dering that all the past, up to scarce two centuries 
back, must of necessity be in common. 

In consequence, many Synods were held in the 
different Churches ; and at Jerusalem, in Pontus, Gaul, 
and many other places, it was decided that the festival 
must always fall on the first day of the week ; but 
Ephesus still refused, and Polycrates, the bishop — 



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irenjEus, the champion of the faith. 247 

who is described as grey-headed, of a slender frame, 
but of a mighty spirit — ^headed the declaration that 
nothing should induce his Church to depart from her 
ancient custom. 

Victor would have carried out his threat of sepa- 
rating the Ephesians from the general communion, 
but the other bishops would not join with him ; and 
Irenaeus wrote a remonstrance, proving how, while 
the main articles of faith were accepted by universal 
consent, local differences of practice showed the extent 
and largeness of the Church, — ^and thus again the 
breach between the East and West was averted. 

From the Christians having leisure for so much 
of argument among themselves, it may easily be 
perceived they were not molested from without. 
The reigning Emperor, Commodus, though a most 
degenerate son of Aurelius, and given up to de- 
bauchery and cruelty, never troubled himself to 
molest the Christians during his twelve years* reign, 
from 180 to 192. In fact, a woman named Marcia, 
who had much influence over him, protected the 
Christians. When at last Marcia found her own name 
in a list of those whom Commodus intended for death, 
she poisoned him, and the empire fell into terrible 
confusion, while the generals of the army struggled 
with one another for the mastery. 

The province of Gaul had either chosen or been 
seized by a man named Clodius Albinus, and in 197 a 
terrible battle was fought at the very gates of Lyons 
between this man and Septimius Severus, a fierce, 
iron, old Roman, once governor of Lyons, and who 



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248 IRENjEUS, the CHAMPION OF THE FAITH. 



had already won the victory in Italy. The Christians 
took no share in political changes, but deemed it their 
duty to obey the Emperor, however he might have 
become such, and whether he brought them peace or 
persecution. 

Both the competitors had shown themselves hard 
and violent men, but Severus was the most likely to be 
felt as a powerful and able emperor, and the friends to 
the public good must have rejoiced when his troops 
were seen advancing, and Albinus' men fled. There 
was a terrible slaughter : Albinus was killed, and the 
Rhone ran red with blood. Severus insulted his enemy's 
corpse, and took a sharp revenge on his partisans, 
but without concerning himself about the Christians, 
indeed, he was forced to hurry to the ends of his 
empire to repel the barbarians, and the Christians 
had also' the hope that he would favour them for the 
sake of Proculus, the steward of his freed man Euodias, 
and who was said to have cured his master of a dan- 
gerous illness. 

But Severus was one of the fierce, stem characters, 
who require that all should bend to their will, and 
when, after a few years, accusations were brought to 
him of Christians who refused him the honours of 
divinity, or neglected to appear at the heathen fes- 
tivals, he bade that the law should take its course. 

This was letting loose the wicked, and they availed 
themselves of the licence. Some Christians — some 
whole Churches — thought it no wrong to purchase 
from the magistrates false testimonials that they 
had burnt incense to idols; but to Irenaeus and his 



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irenjEus, the champion of the faith, ij^^ 

Lyonnese such falsehood was the next thing to 
apostasy. No faithful pen has told how the storm 
broke on the Smymiot-Greek bishop and that flock 
which he had gathered in Gaul by speaking their 
own tongue. 

What is known is, that almost all Lyons was 
Christian; and that in the tenth year of Severus 
a mighty celebration of games in his honour was pro- 
claimed. Pagans from every part of the country came 
in. Whether a chance offence lighted up their fury, we 
cannot tell, or whether there were a deliberate scheme 
of their enemies ; but we do know that the Celtic 
nature, when once set on fire, can be ruthless in its 
frenzy. Nor have any told us whether the Christians 
trembled or triumphed, whether they were taken by 
surprise or were prepared, when the raging multitude 
came roaring on them and the massacre began. 
Alas ! that unhappy land has seen too many of such 
massacres for the fact to be improbable. No one 
seems to have written of the faith and constancy of 
the martyred multitude, but it was told long after 
how the streets of Lyons had been rivers of blood, 
and the Greeks of Smyrna, Irenaeus' home, kept it 
on record that he died \>y the sword in the year 202. 
An old mosaic pavement in the church of St. Irenaeus, 
at Lyons, has an inscription in Latin verses, which 
makes the number of his fellow-martyrs nineteen 
thousand, but this is scarcely credible. At any rate, 
this true shepherd must have stood before his God, 
bringing with him almost unbroken the flock that had 
come with him through the Red Sea of Martyrdom. 



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CHAPTER XVI. 

TRIBULATION AT SMYRNA. 

" And the secret of their conquest 
Let Thy kingdom's records tell ; 
Twas the old Faith once delivered, 

Scom'd so oft, and proved so well. 
They adored Thee, God Incarnate ; 
They believed in Heaven and Hell." 

Rev. W. Bright. 

Those Eastern Churches, to Which the letters from 
Lyons had been written, had a trial coming on them 
that needed that their faith should be strengthened 
by every example that could nerve them to en- 
durance. After the time of Severus, indeed, the very 
weakness of the emperors gave the Christians an 
interval of rest for fifty years, since the men who 
were raised to supreme power, and then pulled down 
again, by their own guards, were far too short-lived 
and insecure to attempt to exercise any authority as 
governors. One of these, Alexander Severus, so far 
tolerated Christianity that he tried to rank our 
Blessed Lord with philosophers and teachers, and 
placed a statue of Him in his private temple. 
Another, named Philip, an Idumean by birth, is said 
to have been a Christian, so far as his belief went, 



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TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 25 1 

though he waived his profession fof the sake of the 
splendours of the purple ; and, indeed, had been 
hitherto restrained from no crime. He poisoned his 
master, Gordian, in order to obtain the empire, while 
on a march from the Persian frontier; and he also 
put to death a poor young prince, who had been en- 
trusted to him as a hostage. 

Easter Eve had come, and the Christians of Antioch 
were gathered in the building which they had of 
late ventured openly to devote to the worship of their 
God. There, watching, as did St John and the Maries 
of old, they knelt in the dark Church, and blessed 
Him who had lain in the g^ve for their sakes, and 
prayed that they might in time come to a joyful 
resurrection, all in waiting for midnight, when, with 
a shout that " Christ is risen ! " each man should light 
his lamp, and rejoice with Easter blessedness. 

Even was drawing on, when steps and sounds came 
near, and a whisper ran through the congregation 
that the Emperor was coming — the Emperor arriving 
as a worshipper; and for the first time would the 
purple robes and laurelled head enter within a Chris- 
tian Church. Was not this the time so much longed 
and prayed for, when edicts of peace would be 
obtained, and when the "sons of them that had 
afflicted the Church would come bending unto her?" 
Granting that Philip was a blood-stained murderer, 
was not the gain for the Church so infinite, that it 
might be possible tc wink at the errors of a convert 
who held the lives of thousands of Christians in his 
hand? 



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253 TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 

Hitherto the assembly of the faithful had never 
fully received persons living in open sin. There was 
a spot set apart for them, where, if repentant, they 
might join in prayer and listen to exhortation ; but 
like the still unbaptized who were under instruction, 
they were placed behind the full members of the 
Church, and were bidden to depart before the cele- 
bration of the Holy Communion. There would have 
been the place of one who had denied his faith in 
torture or terror, of a man who had slain another, or 
of any person grieving over a deep-dyed sin. 

And as the proud head of the soldierly Emperor 
appeared within the door of the Church, he was there 
met by Babylas, the Bishop of Antioch, and no 
respecter of persons in the house of his God. Point- 
ing to the space set apart for penitents, he stood 
before Philip, and told him that the Church closed her 
doors against ^one who desired pardon and forgive- 
ness, but that if he entered, it must be only in the 
place of the penitent, and that he could not be re- 
ceived to Communion till he had gone through the 
discipline appointed for those who had lapsed from 
the faith.* 



* This is the story as told by Eusebius. That which ensues is on 
the authority of St. John Chrysostom, himself a native of Antioch. It 
may be thought another version of the same stoiy, but on the whole 
there is no reason that both should not have taken place, since 
where Philip had penetrated, his successor would think it incumbent on 
his honour to enter, as a mere assertion of his right, as Pompey had 
entered the Holy of Holies ; and Chrysostom makes the bishop's refusal 
the cause of his death. The Decian persecution was not till after the 
expedition to the East 



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TRIDULA TION A T SMYRNA. 253 

Philip obeyed the bishop, and submitted to accept 
the penitent's position. But it may be feared that he 
still halted between two opinions, fearing to offend 
the Romans ; for on his arrival at Rome, the secular 
games by which each century of the State was in- 
augurated were celebrated with extraordinary splen- 
dour. It was the i,oooth year of Rome — the augury 
of Romulus* twelve vultures was almost fulfilled ; but 
the very sense that the commonwealth was tottering 
inspired the more enthusiasm in her old ceremonies, 
and Philip took his share, afraid no doubt to betray 
any shrinking that might offend -those on whom his 
throne and life depended. But before the end of the 
year, the army in Mcesia revolted, and on his way 
home from subduing it, another rebellion broke out 
under his rival Decius, and Philip was defeated and 
slain at Verona in 249. His wife and his son, a grave, 
thoughtful lad, who was slain at the same time with 
him, are said to have been Christians. 

Before long, Decius was again on the frontier, 
called thither to repel the Persians. He, like Philip, 
returned to Antioch, and like Philip is said to have 
presented himself at the door of the Church and 
demanded entrance, perhaps to spy out their pro- 
ceedings. But Decius was soiled with crimes of as 
deep a dye as those of Philip, and he was not, as 
Philip may have been, a Christian. Therefore B;i- 
bylas, fearless as evei in his resolution to maintain 
the virgin purity of his Church, withstood Decius at 
the door, and even on his persistence told him that 
nothing should induce him, the shepherd, to admit a 



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2S4 TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 

wolf into the sheepfold. The result was not what it 
had been with Philip. Decius caused the bishop to 
be seized and thrown into prison, while three young 
boys, whom he had been bringing up in his house, 
were placed under a heathen tutor, and every threat 
and promise employed to turn them from the faith 
he had taught them. 

Babylas was brought before the Emperor, and told 
that he could only purchase his life by sacrificing to 
the gods of Rome. He answered, that, as a shepherd, 
he could only do what was good for his flock, and 
therefore to sacrifice to false gods was impossible. 
After being again imprisoned, he was brought out to 
hear his sentence of execution, and, to his great joy, 
the three young brothers, all constant to their faith, 
were brought out to share his fate. 

" Return again then unto thy rest, O my soul, for 
the Lord hath rewarded thee," he began to chant 
aloud ; and then the bishop and the three boys went 
along those colonnaded streets of Antioch singing their 
psalm of joy, till they came to the place of execution. 

•'Behold, O Lord, I and the children Thou hast 
given me," said Babylas, putting the children first, 
lest the sight of his death should shake them, and 
begging the friends who had followed to let his chains 
be buried with him. 

Decius found his empire in a miserable, disorganised 
plight ; and, like some of his predecessors, seems to 
have thought he could bring back the old Roman 
temper by exterminating the new doctrine that he 
could so little understand. The resistance of Babylas 



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TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 255 

might have made him more bitter ; and certain it is 
that the Decian persecution was far more deadly and 
systematic than any that had gone before. 

But among the many who then endured this fiery 
trial of their faith, only those especially belonging to 
the Churches, of St John can be spoken of. Alex- 
ander, Bishop of Jerusalem, was one of the first 
He was tortured, and died in prison ; and Maximus, 
Bishop of Ephesus, was stoned. But it is of the 
tribulation of Smyrna that we have the fullest ac- 
count ; and as that city was specially marked out for 
such an ordeal by the epistle in the Apocalypse, and 
as the account is very curious and characteristic, we 
give it in full. 

The present bishop, Eudaemon, though in the seat 
of Polycarp, had not been faithful unto death, but 
had yielded to fear, and sacrificed to the idol ; and his 
example had been fatal to many more of his flock. 
A priest named Pionius thus became the chief of 
those who still remained faithful. He was a pale, 
thin ascetic, who had converted many idolaters, was 
much esteemed by all his fellow-citizens, and had a 
great influence over his disciples. He seems to have 
felt that his constancy might be the turning-point 
with the other Christians, and prepared himself ac- 
cordingly. On the eve of the 23d February, 250, 
which was kept at Smyrna in memory of St. Poly- 
carp, Pionius dreamt that he with two of his flock, 
Asclepiades and Sabina — the last a woman who had 
been a sla^je and had suffered much from a heathen 
mistress — ^would be taken the next day ; and when he 



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256 TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 

told them of it, they all, in token of their readiness, 
put chains upon their own necks, in order, as Pionius 
afterwards explained, that they might not be con- 
founded with those who were on their way to 
apostasy ; and then proceeded to keep the feast of 
their martyr Saint. They had just partaken of the 
holy bread, when they were summoned by Polemo — 
who is called the Guardian of the Temple, and was 
probably that chief priest of Dionysos to whom, as 
we have seen, the crown was given at the end of the 
year, — arrived with a guard from the magistrates. 

Polemo really seems to have been desirous of 
saving the life of Pionius, and the populace were in 
the utmost excitement and curiosity, since Pionius 
was a man of much note, and, as is evident from 
his speech, of ready wit and eloquence, and as 
well instructed in classic as in Christian learning. 
At sight of the chains round his neck and those of 
his companions, the crowd became immense, throng- 
ing densely into the forum ; and it is recorded that, 
in consequence of the day being Saturday, there 
was an unusual multitude of women, because the 
Sabbath had set all the Jewesses at leisure. The 
roofs of the houses around the forum were filled with 
gazers, and many stood on benches or chests to see 
over the heads of the others. The mass of the people, 
however, seem to have been much less virulent against 
Pionius than in old times against Polycarp, and 
evidently wished him to act so as to be spared. 
Indeed, it appears that the Smyrniote Jews were dis- 
posed, even though they derided and despised their 



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TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 257 

weakness, to console the unhappy Christians who had 
lapsed, by offering them a refuge from idol worship 
in their synagogues — ^an alternative that must have 
stung these miserable men with the sense of standing 
before the terrible and Just One who gave the Law, 
without the Atoning Sacrifice of the Redeemer they 
had denied. 

As the three prisoners were set in the midst of the 
market-place, Polemo said to Pionius, **You had 
better do as others have done, and avoid punish- 
ment;" and he pointed to the images which stood 
on high, at the top of the steps, under the portico of 
the temple. Then Pionius turned round to the people, 
with a cheerful and resolute countenance, and availing 
himself of the pride the Smyrniotes felt in their city 
being one of those which laid claim to be tlie birth- 
place of Homer, he spoke thus, in a tone that niust 
have taken them by suiprise, as showing that he re- 
garded the apostasy of his fellow-Christians less with 
anger than with pity, as an absolute fall and death — 

" Ye men of Smyrna," he said, " who rejoice in the 
beauty of your walls and of your city, and who exult 
in the poet Homer ; and ye Jews, if any among you 
be present, hear my speech unto you : — 

" I hear that ye deride those who come of them- 
selves to sacrifice, or who refuse not when thereto 
constrained ; whereas ye ought to remember the say- 
ing of your poet Homer, 

• Unseemly 'tis in death of man to joy. 

And you, ye Jews, should remember how that Moses 
said unto you, 'If thou seest the ass of him that 



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2«;8 TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 

hateth thee lying under his burthen, thou shalt not 
forbear to help him.' And Solomon saith, * Rejoice 
not when thine enemy stumbleth.* For my own part, 
I had rather die and suffer all kinds of torments 
than contradict that which I have learnt and which 
I teach/' 

His eloquence won him eager attention, and he 
was allowed to speak for a long time ; but when he 
came to the words, " We worship not your gods of 
silver or gold," the idols were brought down from the 
portico, and carried into the midst of the forum, as 
to a face-to-face encounter; and the people, led by 
Polemo, shouted, " Hear us, Pionius, your justice and 
wisdom induce us to adjudge you worthy of life. It 
is good to breathe and see the light" 

" So say I," replied Pionius. " I say, it is good to 
live and see the light, but that light is what we long 
to come unto. We do not part with these gifts of 
God out of scorn, but what we prefer to them is far 
better. I thank you for your affection, but I doubt 
your intention. Open hatred injures less than deceitful 
flattery." 

A man named Alexander began with, " Listen — " 

" Listen to me," said Pionius. " I know what thou 
dost and also what thou dost not know." 

"What mean these chains ?" said Alexander. 

" That none may think we are going to the temple," 
said Pionius. 

The people continued to entreat him to yield ; and 
as his answers still continued to strike and almost 
fascinate them, they demanded that he should be 



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TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 259 

brought into the theatre, that his voice might be better 
heard ; but some persons represented to Polemo that 
this would be sure to end in a riot, and he therefore 
said, " If you will not sacrifice, at least come into tlie 
temple." 

"That would not be good for the idols," said 
Pionius. 

"Then," said Polemo, "is it impossible to persuade 
thee?" 

" Would to God that instead I could maKe you all 
Christians." 

" The gods forefend," cried the bystanders ; " then 
we should be burnt alive !" 

" Better so, than to burn after death," said Pionius. 

The exclamation of these persons made Sabina 
smile, and there was a shout at her, "Dost thou 
laugh.?" 

" Ay," she said ; " I laugh, if God wills it, for we 
are Christian." 

" Dost thou know how they treat women who will 
not sacrifice ? " 

" God will provide," she said. 

Polemo then again commanded Pionius to sacrifice. 

" I will not," he said 

"Why not?" 

" I am a Christian." 

"Who is thy God?" 

" God Almighty, who made heaven and earth, and 
all that is therein ; who giveth us richly all things to 
enjoy, and Whom we know by His Word, jESUS 
Christ." 

S 2 



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26o TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 

"Then at least sacrifice to the Emperor," said 
Polemo, for this act of homage sometimes served as 
a sort of subterfuge to appease the consciences of 
yielding Christians. 

But Pionius answered, " I sacrifice to no man." 

The judicial examination began on this distinct 
refusal, and the answers were engraved on waxen 
tablets by a notary. 

*•' What dost thou call thyself?" 

"A Christian." 

" Of what Church V For, as we have seen, there 
were already various bodies who, under the per- 
suasion of false teachers, had separated from the 
Church. 

^ The Catholic," answered Pionius, using the word 
for the one universal Church, which had J^een first 
applied to it by St. Ignatius. 

He then turned to Sabina and Asclepiades, who 
made the same answers, except that the latter, when 
asked who was his God, said, " jESUS CHRIST." 

" What, another } " said Polemo. 

" No ; He is the same whom the others have con- 
fessed. ** 

They were then ordered off to prison, and were 
greatly jostled by the throng, so that Sabina was 
forced to cling to the priest's garment that she might 
not be trampled down ; and shouts of contempt were 
heard : " See the man who was so pale ! He is red 
enough now ! " 

"That little man," pointing to Asclepiades, "is 
going to sacrifice." 



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TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 261 

"How — thou wise man, how can you so obsti- 
nately run upon death ! " 

"Nay," said Pionius, "have there not been famine 
and disease among you ?" 

"You/* they said, "are as much exposed to these 
things, and to prison and death besides." 

"Yes; but with hope in God." 

The crowd was so great that they could hardly be 
squeezed into prison, where they found one woman 
and two men, one a fellow-priest named Lemnus. 
They were visited there by both heathens and Jews ; 
and Pionius held many arguments with both, espe- 
cially asking the Jews if they thought faith in a mere 
man, put to a cruel death, could inspire courage and 
joy in suffering. His cheerfulness only failed when 
he thought of those who had yielded, especially of 
some who had hitherto led a blameless life. " I 
feel," he said, with tears, "as if I were torn in 
pieces, when I hear of the pearls of the Church 
being trodden under foot by swine, and the stars of 
heaven swept down by the tail of the great dragon. 
Alas, our sins are the cause i '' 

Grievous must it have been to him when it was 
decided to set before him visibly the example of hi? 
own fallen bishop. Polemo came with Theophilus, 
the commander of the cavalry, saying, " Eudaemon 
has sacrificed. Obey likewise. Eudaemon and Lepidus 
await you in the temple." 

" The trial cannot come on till the arrival of the 
proconsul," answered Pionius. 

However, Theophilus summoned some soldiers, 



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262 TRIBULA TION AT SMYRNA. 

who put a rope round Pionius' neck, and almost 
strangled him, as they dragged him and the other 
prisoners to the temple; but at the door they all 
threw themselves flat on the ground, crying out aloud 
that they were Christians; and Pionius was absolutely 
carried in by six men, and was laid down before the 
altar, before which Eudaemon stood offering incense. 
Never had that renowned temple seen such a sight 
— the ivy-crowned statue of Dionysos over his 
altar beneath the stately portico, the animals gar- 
landed led to execution, the incense wreathing its 
sweet cloud, the populace thronging the steps, four 
men and two women lying before the altar in mute, 
passive resistance, and the god defied ; while one 
miserable, trembling man, crowned with a wreath, 
stood casting grains of incense on the smoking tripod. 

Lepidus, who was a magistrate, began to inter- 
rogate Pionius ; but as he continued to confess the 
faith, some of these men, who evidently wished to 
grasp at any pretext for dismissing him before the 
proconsul should arrive and seal his fate, said to one 
another, " We must make him say what we wish ! " 

Pionius overhearing this, cried, *' Blush for your- 
selves, ye worshippers of the skies! Execute your 
justice! Obey your laws, which bid you not to 
compel obedience to them, but put those who refuse 
to death!" 

"Cease, Pionius, to seek for vain-glory," said an 
orator named Rufus. 

" Is this thine eloquence ? " said Pionius ; " is this 
what thy books teach thee ? Was not Socrates thus 



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TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 263 

treated by the Athenians ? Are men to be imperfect, 
indolent, feeble, and cowardly? Then Socrates, 
Aristides, Anaxarchus, were seekers of vain-glory, 
because they sought wisdom and virtue ! " 

Rufus was silenced, but the garlands always worn 
at a heathen sacrifice were placed on Pionius' head, 
and as quickly lay torn to pieces by his hands on the 
marble pavement ; and a man who had been sacrificing 
came in carrying choice morsels of the victims upon 
small spits ; but when he saw the firm countenance 
of Pionius, he durst not even offer them, but ate them 
himself. The wretched Eudaemon seems not to have 
spoken a word, but all the other voices were up- 
lifted. The master of the sports told Asclepiades 
that he would have him for the beasts, but without 
shaking his resolution ; and the Christians were taken 
back to the prison, to await the arrival of the pro- 
consul, Quintilian. 

There must have been something very striking 
about Pionius, for Quintilian likewise strove to save 
him, but finding all persuasion fruitless, condemned 
him to be burnt alive, like St. Polycarp. He un- 
dressed himself, and was fastened to the stake with 
nails. He then said, "I hasten. Lord, that I may 
rise with thee." A man named Metrodorus, of the 
sect of the Marcionites, shared his martyrdom, and 
the pile was heaped with wood and set on fire. His 
eyes were closed, and the people thought him dead ; 
but he opened them again, gazed at the fire, said 
"Amen, Lord receive my spirit," and so died. 

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264 TRIBULA TION A T SMYRNA. 

Asclepiades, and we forbear to dwell on the rest of 
the noble army of martyrs whose life around the 
Throne dated from the Decian persecution. Great 
names were there, but it is enough for us to show 
that Smyrna, though some wavered and fell in the 
deadly trial, still had some who " overcame," and by 
faithfulness unto death won the crown of life. 



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CHAPTER XVIL 



ST. SIMEON OF SELEUCIA AND THE PARTHIANS. 

" Armies Thou hast in Heaven which fight 
And follow Thee, all clothed in white ; 
But here on Earth, though Thou hadst need, 
Thou wouldst no legions^ but wouldst bleed. 
The Sword with which Thou wouldst command 
Is in Thy Mouth, not m Thy Hand ; 
And all Thy Saints do overcome 
By Thy Blood, and their Martyrdom." 

Henry Vaughan, The Mm of War. 

The Church of the far East in the cities and meadows 
of Mesopotamia and the mountains of Persia had 
apparently continued in peace from the first All 
through the time when the wild Parthian horsemen 
held the chief power on the banks of the Euphrates 
and Tigris, no external power interfered with them, 
and they lived and throve by the side of the Jews, and 
probably had their share in the cultivation of science, 
which for many years was better studied in the old 
river cities than in any other part of the civilized 



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266 .S-T: SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 

world. But about the time of the martyrdoms of 
Lyons, a cloud b^an to rise which was in time to 
burst in thunder on the heads of the Christians of the 
East. 

Readers of ancient history will remember that the 
grand old Medo-Persian dynasty, the Ram of Daniel's 
fourfold vision, the house of Cyrus, and of Darius, had 
been utterly destroyed and swept away by the 
he-goat of the dream, the great Macedonian Alex- 
ander. In the partition of his empire the more 
accessible portions of the old Persian domains had 
fallen to the family of Seleucus, as part of the king- 
dom of Syria, and when the Seleucidae waned, and 
their western provinces fell under the Roman power, 
the eastern mountains sent forth hordes of Parthians, 
a mixed race, partly Scythian, partly Persian, who 
established a sort of wild free and easy dominion 
over the countries beyond the desert barrier which had 
always made the Roman eagle droop his wing. 

A mixture of populations would inhabit the great 
cities and plains, and yet keep distinct — Greeks, whose 
wonderful self-governing organization would still serve 
them ; Jews, under their Prince of the Captivity ; 
Arabs, under their several Sheikhs ; old Persians of the 
pure stock of ancient times, would pay their tribute 
to the Parthian master without otherwise feeling his 
authority. In such a state of things, there would 
be no one to conduct a persecution, and the Church 
became numerous and apparently secure. 

But somewhere about the year 220 a revival of 
the old Persian stock took place. A man named 



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ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 267 

Ardisheer, the same as Artaxerxes, and claiming to 
be descended from Xerxes — or Sassan, as the modern 
Persians called him — came forward at Istakhar, or 
Persepolis, and rallying the genuine Persians round 
him, overthrew the Parthian power, and called him- 
self Shah-in-Shah, or king of kings. With the old 
dynasty the old religion recovered influence. The 
Parthians seem, like all such wild wanderers, to have 
held their faith very loosely ; but the Persians, who 
had a system full of germs of truth, and with sublime 
conceptions of Ormuzd, as they called the deity 
whose tokens were the glorious sun and the devouring 
flame, were keen in their religious feelings ; and with 
all their reviving vigour as a nation, re-asserted the 
dominion of the faith of Zoroaster and the Magians, 
their priestly caste. They were a people of much fire 
and spirit, of much acuteness and elegance of taste, 
and being descended from the same great stock as the 
Greeks, Romans, and our own forefathers, had much 
in common with them, though all coloured by the 
peculiar influence of the gorgeous East ; but the heroic 
and poetical traditions that hung round the outer sur- 
face of their faith, had the same origin as the classical 
myths and northern tales, and much of their poetry 
was very beautiful. They had, however, from very 
ancient times, held that there was a double principle 
— of good and of evil of equal power — Ormuzd and 
Ahriman, the same idea that Simon Magus had been 
infected with in Egypt, and which likewise became 
current among some of the Christians of Persia. A 
man named Manes was the first to mix this fatal error 



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268 ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 

with their faith, and from him the heresy that thus 
arose was called the Manichaean. 

The heavy trial of the Persian Church came to pass 
in the time of Sapor, or Shahpoor II. (who began to 
reign in the year 301), as soon as, or indeed before, he 
was born. He does not seem to have begun life with 
any prejudice against the Christians ; indeed, he was 
tended in his infancy by Usthazanes, one of the 
eunuchs of the palace, who was a Christian, and 
whom the Shah loved and trusted so much as to make, 
him first lord of Persia and his chief chamberlain. 
He was also as great a friend as a despotic Shah 
could be of Simeon Barsaboes {ue. the fuller's son), 
the Bishop of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, the Greek and 
Parthian cities on the opposite sides of the Tigris— a 
man of such beautiful counteniance and stately pre- 
sence that he impressed all persons, even against their 
will. In fact, the Christians were living much in the 
same state as Daniel and his companions had lived 
in the same country, liable at any moment to per- 
secution, but perforce employed and respected on 
account of their superior trustworthiness. 

But at the very time that the last and worst per- 
secution in the Roman empire was quenched by the 
victory of Constantine, and the Cross was set up in- 
stead of the Eagle at the head of the Roman legions, 
the heart of Sapor became turned against his Chris- 
tian subjects. It is possible that he considered them 
as traitors, because they kept up an intercourse with 
their brethren of the Roman empire, whose prince 
was now acknowledged as a believer, instead of being 



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Sr: SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS, 269 

a persecutor. Indeed, at the great council of Nicaea, 
in 325, which had been convoked by Constantine for 
the purpose of declaring the faith of the Church in 
the Eternal Godhead of our Blessed Lord, Simeon was 
represented by his priest, Sciadhustes, and there his 
see was appointed by the council to become a patri- 
archate, and carry with it a certain authority over the 
bishoprics within its bounds. Maruthas, one of the 
contemporary priests of Seleucia, wrote in Chaldaic 
an account of the trials of the Church in these days, 
part of which was copied by the Church historian, 
Sozomen, into his narrative, and the whole, with other 
Chaldean authorities, were in more recent times 
brought to light and translated by the learned 
Syrians, Elias and Stephen Assemani, who have 
already been mentioned as collecting manuscripts at 
Nitria for the Vatican. 

There is, therefore, no doubt of the facts, and to 
bring the scene before us we must cease to think of 
the classical Greek and Roman scenes — the forum, 
the tribunal, the amphitheatre, the purple-robed 
Emperor, the soldier with his horsehair crest, the 
people in tunic or toga ; but rather call before us the 
vast half-buried splendours of the Mesopotamian 
cities — Nineveh quite gone ; Babylon, since the Sas- 
sanid dynasty had come in, entirely deserted, save 
that its mighty walls served for an inclosure to the 
Shah's hunting-park, so that every wild howl or roar 
that rang from within brought to the minds of the 
Christians and Jews remembrances of Isaiah's pro- 
phecy. Seleucia was already falling into partial 



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270 ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 

neglect, and indeed nothing is now left to show the 
place of this once splendid city ; and of Ctesiphon, 
then in its glory, only one enormous arch remains. 

Among the mountains of Persia proper, Istakhar, 
or Persepolis, was a mixture of poor modem dwellings 
with the magnificent, elegantly-formed, and richly- 
carved remnants of the palaces of Darius ; and Susa, or 
*' Shusan the palace," still possessed in ruins the marble 
pavements, where, among the many-coloured veils and 
curtains between the pillars of Ahasuerus' palace, 
Esther's intercession had saved her people. Straight 
featured, rather small, but slender and well propor- 
tioned, were the Persian race in general, wearing long 
straight garments, brightly coloured, and belted in at 
the waist, with a tall conical cap on the head — a cap 
that in the case of the Shah was completely incrusted 
with pearls and other jewels, and had the peak set 
upright, while inferior persons wore it turned back. 
The Sassanid princes had taken up all the traditions 
of their supposed ancestry, the old kings, and like 
Darius of old, the Shah-in-Shah, or king of kings, the 
Great King, was thought, next after the sun and fire, 
to represent Ormuzd, and was adored by prostra- 
tions on the rich and brilliant carpets that lay before 
the cushions of his throne. 

As yet free from the torpor that falls on the be- 
lievers in the Koran, the Shahs were full of activity, — 
great soldiers and huntsmen, busy judges and states- 
men, and in their leisure hours amused with poetry 
and musia Sapor was constantly at war with the 
Roman empire, and his first persecution seems to 



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ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 271 

have begun when he was irritated by want of success, 
and the Magi represented to him that the sun received 
no adoration, since the Christians taught every one to 
despise it 

They especially complained of the number of 
Churches built by two bishops named Sapor and 
Isaac These, with three others, were brought before 
him, and the kmg is represented as arguing thus with 
them : — 

" Am I not of divine birth ? — yet I sacrifice to the 
sun, and pay divine honour to fire. Who are ye, that 
ye should disobey my laws, and despise the sun and 
the flame ? " 

"We know but one God, and Him only do we 
serve," cried the martyrs. 

" Is your God better than Ormuzd, or stronger than 
Ahriman ? " demanded the Shah ; and as they con- 
tinued to confess their faith, he caused them to be 
beaten, till Bishop Sapor*s bones were broken, so that 
he died in prison. Isaac was stoned by some of his 
own flock, who had apostatized from terror, and their 
companions were also killed. Fear or affection for 
his master also led the chamberlain Usthazanes to 
offer the required homage to the sun. 

For a time there was peace for the Christians, whilst 
Sapor was endeavouring to make fresh conquests on 
the border ; but he failed in his attack on the city of 
Nisibis, and, returning full of wrath, listened to the 
further accusations of the Magi, who accused the 
Christians of being traitors. In 340, therefore, an 
edict came forth, making death the penalty of 



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272 ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 

embracing Christianity, and laying heavy imposts on 
all who already professed it This was followed up 
by the confiscation of the Churches, and the seizure of 
their furniture and vessels, with terrible threats to the 
clergy. Upon this the Patriarch Simeon wrote a. 
letter to the king, speaking thus : — 

" Jesus Christ offered Himself of His own free 
will for the whole world, and ransomed it by the shed- 
ding of His Blood. Can I then fear to give my life 
for a people for whose salvation I am bound to work t 
If I cannot live without a crime, I would not prolong 
my days. God forbids me to purchase my life at the 
expense of the souls for whom His Son gave His life. 
I am not base enough to fear to walk in my Saviour's 
footsteps. By His grace I feel strength to share in 
His sacrifice. As to my people, they will be able to 
die for a religion that secures their salvation." 

The king was greatly enraged on hearing this 
letter, and instantly sent orders that all the priests and 
deacons should be put to death. " As to Simeon," he 
added — " Simeon, the chief of the accursed race, who 
despises my majesty, who only worships Caesar's God, 
and scorns mine — let him be brought and set before 
me. 

On this a Jew counsellor added the suggestion, 
" Great king, your wrath is just If you write to 
Caesar, he will pay no honour to your letter ; but let 
Simeon write him a few lines, and he will rise to receive 
them, kiss them respectfully, and command that 
whatever is requested in them should be fulfilled." 

Simeon was arrested at Seleucia, with two of the 



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ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 273 

twelve priests of his Church, named AbdhaYcla and 
Hananias, and was put in chains to be conducted to 
the king, who was then in Persia Proper. He was 
taken through his native city of Susa, but he begged 
that he might not have the grief of passing through 
a street where a Christian church had lately been 
turned into a Jewish synagogue. 

It was at a place near the banks of the Oxus that 
he was brought before Sapor. He did not prostrate 
himself, as had been his wont, and Sapor demanded 
why he omitted this homage or adoration. 

" Because," said Simeon, " I never appeared in irons 
before you till now, nor in order that I might be 
forced to den}'' the true God." 

It would seem that there was an accusation of dis 
affection to the State, and when Simeon had cleared 
himself from this, the king became less severe in his 
manner, and said, " Believe me, Simeon, I wish you 
well. Adore the sun, and this act of obedience will 
be good for you and your people." 

"How should I adore the sun," said Simeon, 
"when I cannot even adore you, O king, though 
you are of a more excellent nature than the sun.? 
We own one Lord alone, even jESUS, who was 
crucified." 

" I could endure your folly," said the king, " if you 
worshipped a living God ; but no, you adore as God 
a man who died on the wood of infamy. Be wiser, 
and adore the sun, to whose divinity all nature does 
homage. If you obey, you shall have riches, honours, 
and dignities." 

T 



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274 -^T. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 

To which Simeon answered, "You know not 
Jesus Christ. He is the Creator of men, and Lord 
of the sun itself, who even became dark to mourn for 
His death. Then He rose glorious from the grave, 
and rose up to heaven by His own power. The 
honours you promise me tempt me not. My God is 
preparing for me things you know not, which are far 
more precious than yours." 

" You had better save your life," said the king, " as 
well as that of multitudes, who will perish with you 
if you persist in your obstinacy." 

*'If you commit such a crime you will feel its 
enormity, and endure the punishment when you 
stand before the Judge of all the earth. I willingly 
abandon to you the remnant of this wretched life/' 
said Simeon. 

" Then," returned Sapor, " you must run upon your 
ruin ; but I pity your followers, and will try to cure 
them of their folly by the severity of your punish- 
ment." 

Undaunted by the threat, Simeon answered, " You 
will soon find out that Christians do not sacrifice their 
eternal life for this corruptible life ; and that they 
would not exchange the immortal name they take 
from Christ for your diadem." 

^* If you refuse to honour me in the presence of my 
grandees, and to adore me or the sun, the divinity of 
all the East, to-morrow that handsome face and form 
shall be torn and mauled," said Sapor, who saw that 
his court were much impressed by the great beauty 
and dignity of Simeon's appearance. His reply was, 



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ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 275 

" You equal yourself to the sun, and make it your 
God, though you are greatly the superior. If you 
disfigure the beauty of my body, which I look upon 
as contemptible, He who gave it to me will one day 
restore it with usury." 

So from the carpets spread before the throne of 
Sapor, Simeon was led away, but at the door waited 
Usthazanes ; * and now, as he saw the bishop pass, he 
threw himself on his knees, overawed by his pre- 
sence; but Simeon turned his head aside, and would 
not even look at him. Cut to the heart, Usthazanes 
cried with tears " Alas ! if to see Simeon's face 
turned from me is so dreadful, how can I bear the 
wrath of the God I have denied ! " 

He went home, clothed himself in black, and again 
returned to his post, where he was at once interrogated 
by the king, and confessed himself a Christian without 
further wavering. Sapor would have had him tor- 
tured, probably in hopes of making him yield and 
save his life, but the nobles insisted that he should die 
at once. He only begged that it might be proclaimed 
that he did not die for any crime, but for his return to 
the Christian profession ; and this the Shah granted, 
thinking it would terrify the Christians. To Simeon, 
in his dungeon, the tidings were full of joy, and he 
gave thanks with uplifted hands ; and then, as the 
Paschal feast was near, he prayed for himself that he 
might drink the cup of his Lord on the very day and 
at the hour of the Passion. 

* In the Chaldee of Maruthas he is Guh Sciata Zades, which is said 
to mean a man of rank. 

T2 



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276 ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS, 

The next day was Good Friday, and he was again 
led to the Shah; and refusing once more to adore 
either him or the sun, was at once sentenced to be 
beheaded. 

A hundred more clergy were led out to die at 
the same time, five of them bishops, and the rest of 
all the other grades. They were offered life if they 
would adore the sun, but they all refused, and all 
were put to death before the eyes of Simeon, whom 
the king hoped thus to terrify, but who only exhorted 
them all the time to persevere in the hope of the 
Resurrection. He and his two priests were the last ; 
and as Hananias was taking off his garment, a 
shudder passed over him, on which Phusikes, the sur- 
veyor of the king's works, said, " Be firm, Hananias, 
shut your eyes, and in a moment you will see the 
divine Light of Christ." 

This was reported to the king, and Phusikes being 
led before him, declared that he asked no favour but 
to share the death of these men ; and so he did, but 
with far greater torture. Nor did the constant 
slaughter of the Christians cease from the sixth hour 
on Good Friday until the second Sunday after Easter. 
Sozomen says that 16,000 of all ages and sexes 
perished in an indiscriminate massacre, in which at 
last was included one Azades, a favourite eunuch of 
the king, who was so grieved at his death as to con- 
fine the persecution for the future to the clergy and 
the virgin deaconesses. Sapor's queen had fallen sick, 
and the Jew physician who attended her persuaded 
her that her illness was the effect of the revengeful 



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^T: SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS, 277 

magic of Tharba, the sister of Simeon, and remark- 
able for the same unusual personal beauty. 

She and her maid were arrested on this accusation. 
She protested that magic was equally forbidden with 
idolatry; and besides she said, "Why should we 
revenge my brother, since he only passed from perish- 
able life to a heavenly kingdom ? Besides, vengeance 
is also unlawful for us." 

So beautiful was she, that each of her three judges 
separately offered to save her if she would enter their 
harems, but she refused them all ; and when told that 
she might yet be pardoned if she would only adore 
the sun, she answered, " Never will I worship the 
creature instead of the Creator." She was then sen- 
tenced, and both she and her maid were actually hewn 
each into six parts, which were placed in baskets, and 
hung upon twelve stakes disposed in two rows, along 
which the queen was to walk to destroy the effect 01 
the supposed enchantment ! 

At Adiabene, a hundred and eleven clergy and nine 
deaconesses were in a horrible dungeon together, 
where they were daily fed for six months by one rich 
and virtuous woman, named Yazdundocta, who, on the 
night before their execution, spread for them a feast in 
their prison, brought them each a white garment for 
their martyrdom, and waited on them herself ; and 
when they were on the way to their death, she met 
them, throwing herself at their feet, and kissing their 
hands. After all had been beheaded, she caused them 
to be buried, five and five together, in graves at some 
distance from the city. After this the persecution 



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278 ST. SIMEON AND THE PARTHIANS. 

slackened, though not till Sadoth, the nephew and 
successor of Simeon, had shared his fate, at the end 
of nine months. 

Sapor turned his attention to his foreign wars, and 
spent sixty-three days with all his army in a vain 
attempt to take Nisibis : so valiant and patient were 
the citizens under the exhortations of St. James, their 
hero bishop, who constantly encouraged them, and 
prayed for their safety and deliverance ; though, when 
he was entreated to pray for the destruction of the 
enemy, he said he would entreat for the perishing of 
no man, but would only ask that God would make 
the weak things of the world to confound the strong. 

At that moment, James* own figure, as he fearlessly 
passed along the walls, in his full episcopal robes, was 
taken by the Persians for that of the Emperor. They 
fancied a reinforcement had come, and a panic spread 
among them ; and soon after, swarms of stinging 
jflies and gnats, bred by the summer rain and heat 
acting upon the refuse of the camp, rendered the 
situation intolerable, and forced the Shah to raise 
the siege. 

Such is the account given by Christian writers ; 
and it is quite certain that the Christian stedfastness 
of Nisibis and Edessa were for at least a century the 
protection of the Greek and Roman world. James of 
Nisibis was the great infuser of this spirit. He was 
a man as meek and charitable as he was resolute and 
brave, and was specially noted for his loving care of 
the poor, the widow, and the fatherless. 



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CHAPTER XVIII. 



THE VICTORY. 



•* The Oracles are dumb, 
No voice or hideous hum 
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving ; 
Apollo from his shrine 
Can no more divine, 
With hollow shriek the steep of Ddphos leaving." 

Milton. 

While the Church in Persia was struggling and 
suffering, triumph and peace had come to the 
Churches of the Roman empire. 

We pass over the horrors of the long persecution 
begun by Diocletian, and carried on by Maximin ; 
and Constantine, though he assumed the purple in 
Gaul, does not especially belong to the Churches of 
St. John, save that as Emperor his power told upon 
their condition, and they reaped the full benefit of 
his proclamation of peace to the Christians, and the 
example of his profession of faith. 

The faith was not merely tolerated, it was owned 
as the dominant power ; the doors of the heathen 
temples were not closed by authority, but were left 



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28o THE VICTORY, 



shut by mere neglect ; churches were openly built 
and frequented, and the questions of doctrine that 
former emperors had never known to exist anxiously 
occupied the mind of Constantine. 

On this account it was that Councils of the Church 
were convoked. Aries was the scene of the first great 
Synod, in 314. Scarcely a hundred years after the 
martyrdoms at Lyons, the Emperor himself was 
sending forth letters to the Western bishops, inviting 
them to meet him at Arelate, attended each by two 
priests and three servants, and undertaking for all 
the expenses of their journey, to confer upon matters 
concerning the teaching and discipline of the Church. 

Such another meeting, but truly universal, took 
place eleven years later (in 325), at Nicaea, and is the 
first of the General Councils whose decrees form the 
laws of the whole Church. Now, without any weak 
compliance on the part of the Christians, without one 
intrigue, without even solicitation, the Cross had been 
exalted, the name of Christ was openly proclaimed, 
and the Roman armies went forth to fight beneath 
the cypher of the Holy Name and the motto, 
" In hoc signo vinces " (In this sign thou shalt 
conquer). 

And Jerusalem, so long trodden down of the Gen- 
tiles and dishonoured by the name that Hadrian had 
imposed on it, was visited by Constantine's mother, 
the Empress Helena, who traced out with reverent 
eagerness every spot which tradition connected with 
the footprints of the Saviour, — the home at Nazareth, 
the cave of the Nativity at Bethlehem, the Mount ol 



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THE VICTORY. 281 



Olives, and the Hill of Calvary. The Temple of 
Venus was overthrown, and in the earth thrown up 
to form its foundation was discovered what the Chris- 
tians of Jerusalem declared to be the Holy Sepulchre, 
and near it three crosses, one of which was reverenced 
by the whole Christian world as the veritable Tree 
on which the Redeemer had hung. The church which 
Helena built, covering both the site of the crucifixion 
and the sepulchre, became at once the most venerated 
spot in the whole world; choice marbles, gold and 
silver, gems and incense, were lavished on it, and the 
memory of the spot where the Son of Man had died 
the most despised of all deaths had become the glory 
of all lands. Thenceforth men of all nations gathered 
themselves to Jerusalem, to worship, to weep, and to 
rejoice ; to trace the Saviour's footsteps from shrine 
to shrine, and bless Him for His humiliation, while 
they entreated Him to let His Passion not have been 
to them in vain. 

Yet the Victory of the Faith was to be even more 
marked, when the great-nephew of Constantine, Julian, 
endeavoured to lift up and reanimate the fallen corpse 
of Paganism. 

There had been an unfortunate reign immediately 
after Constantine's. His son Constantius was a feeble, 
selfish man, enervated by the wealth, luxury, and 
splendour of his position ; and, though calling himselt 
a Christian, holding those low views of the Divinity 
of the Lord Christ which had been censured at 
Nicaea, and misusing the persons who maintained the 
Catholic faith, especially the g^eat St Athanasius, 



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282 THE VICTORY, 



who, though a true disciple of St. John, in the valiant 
defence of Truth, belongs rather to the history of 
St. Mark's Church of Alexandria than to that of 
St. John's foundation. 

Constantius was a weak tyrant, cowardly, violent, 
and false, and betraying in his whole conduct the 
Christian name he bore. 

And thus it was that as Julian, his next heir, 
grew up under a weight of jealous suspicion, he 
hated and despised religion as he saw it in his 
oppressive kinsman, and went back to the old times 
when the Romans were the stedfast, hardy, proud 
conquerors of. the world, and their country's glory 
was their sole thought. Athens, still the place of 
study for the youth of the Empire, was the scene of 
many a dream and aspiration of the young man 
towards the old days of Roman hardihood and Greek 
truth-seeking. When he saw the Emperor, no longer 
the victorious general surrounded by his captains — 
the great simple-mannered magistrate, in whom were 
gathered all the most important offices of the State, 
the citizen of most power only because he toiled the 
hardest — instead of this a mere purple-robed, crowned 
monarch, surrounded by flatterers and slaves, waited 
upon like an image, putting off his cares upon his 
favourites, reposing in his palace instead of heading 
his armies, and those armies falling back defeated 
in Germany on the one hand and Persia on the other, 
while even Rome itself was deserted for the new- 
built eastern Constantinople, — ^his spirit burnt within 
him ; and as he read of the stern virtue of Cato, the 



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THE VICTORY. 283 



brilliancy of Caesar, the grave earnestness of Aurelius, 
he fancied it was the renunciation of the old deities 
of their forefathers that had destroyed the temper of 
Rome ; and through the very sins and weakness of 
the Christians he, in his earnest but vain impatient 
temper, was turned in heart from the faith. 

Like the women of Judah, who said that all had 
gone well with them when they made cakes for the 
Queen of Heaven, Julian, spurning the religion of 
Constantius, went back in heart to the solemn Jupiter 
of the Capitol, the stern Father Mars, the pure Vesta 
of his Roman forefathers, and mourned over their 
closed, forsaken shrines ; and while .wandering at 
Athens, he looked up wistfully at the splendour of 
the creamy columns of the Parthenon, the battles 
sculptured on their friezes, and the ivory and gold 
statue of Pallas Athene, the masterpiece of Phidias, 
shining in her almost forsaken temple, with her out- 
stretched spear, and a majesty of beauty that had 
in it a trace of the Divine inspiration that came to 
the great men of old who were feeling for the truth. 
He dwelt on the deep thoughts and speculations of 
Socrates and Plato, which had almost consecrated 
those porticoes and groves ; and he revelled in the 
magnificent poems, the like of which had never yet 
flowed from a Christian lyre. He knew not that 
what gave their glory and beauty to these thoughts 
and these forms was, that they were "the strong 
yearnings for a blest new birth " of the old ignorant 
world ; they were the tokens of how God's Spirit 
spoke of old to the hearts of men longing and 



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284 THE VICTORY. 



struggling for the knowledge that was denied to 
them. He, born in open day, a baptized Christian, 
saw the light so obscured by the evil lives of those 
who professed it, that he went back into the dark 
night that he might have the tapers of these great 
men of old for his guides. Of the deadly depth 
of corruption and vile practices of that ancient world 
he knew little or nothing. Unwittingly his standard 
of morals was formed, not on his heroes of old, but 
on the perfect rule that the Christians had set abroad 
through the world. He called himself a Stoic, ready 
to endure the utmost hardness, that he might practise 
the utmost virtue without reward; but in his ideas 
and practice of virtue and iself-sacrifice he was no 
Stoic, but rather what he was called by the com- 
panion of his studies, St. Basil, the ape of Chris- 
tianity. It was an Ephesian philosopher who finally 
overturned his belief in Christianity ; and thus for 
once Artemis had prevailed over the doctrine of St 
John. 

While within reach of Constantius he was forced 
to dissemble his sentiments during his course of study 
at Athens, but while commanding the Roman troops 
in Gaul, he ceased entirely to share in Christian 
ordinances. He was even said to have tried to wash 
away his baptism in a bath of the blood of sacrifices; 
and when, in 361, he became Emperor in his cousin*s 
stead, the last struggle for supremacy between the 
heathen and the Christian world began. 

The gods of Greece and Rome were again pro- 
claimed as divinities, their temples were cleansed, 



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THE VICTORY. 285 



their images reinstated, herds were collected to serve 
as sacrifices, their oracles were consulted, and Julian, 
though professing not to persecute, made it evident 
that he was resolved that his subjects should follow 
his example, and found every excuse for dealing 
severely by the orthodox Christians, and for acting 
in direct defiance of the predictions of prophecy. 

Here, then, was the crisis of the fight, led by the 
young Emperor, bearded, wiry, hardy, and active, with 
merely the plainest purple toga and buskins to mark 
his station, living on the hardest fare, sleeping on a 
lion's skin, pure and regular in life as the strictest 
monk, just, upright and merciful, save when his mind 
was warped by his hostility to the new religion, and 
challenging the Christians to show equal virtue — 
nay, consciously challenging the Galilean Carpenter, 
as he was wont to call our Blessed Lord, to prove 
Himself greater and truer than the Jupiter of the 
Romans. 

He was bent on a grand expedition to Persia, which 
should give him the glories of another Alexander. 
He would fain have been accompanied by a pagan 
army, but his soldiers were almost all believers, and, 
as it was fifty years since the last persecution, had 
almost forgotten the tests of heathenism. So when 
the Emperor was giving an advance of pay to a large 
body of his men, as they passed his throne and took 
his gift, each received a handful of spices and a com- 
mand to cast it into a little fire burning before him. 
Their instinct of discipline made them obey without 
question, or thinking of the meaning of the rite. 



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286 THE VICTORY. 



Shortly after, as one invoked the name of CHRIST ere 
he drank, he was told that he was a Christian no 
longer ; and then he understood that the fire had 
been burning on no other than the Altar of Jupiter, 
and that they had done the deed that their fathers 
had refused at the cost of their Uvea They all 
rushed before the Emperor, tearing their hair, and 
demanding to be put to death in expiation of their 
unknowing fall, and the Emperor in his anger con- 
demned them all to die for their breach of discipline. 
At the place of execution the eldest requested that 
the youngest might be the first to die, and the sword 
was just lifted over the head of the youth, whose 
name was Romanus, when orders from the Emperor 
came to spare their lives ; whereupon this truly brave 
soldier rose up, saying only, "Then it seems that 
Romanus is not worthy of a martyr's crown." The 
Emperor deprived the officers of their rank and dis- 
persed them into different provinces, but he did not 
try the experiment on any more legions, or his army 
would have been too much thinned. 

Antioch, where the Emperor halted on his way to 
the East, was the centre of the battle of the Christian 
faith with the heathen oracles. Near Antioch lay a 
village called Daphne, and a fountain named Castalia, 
said by the Syriac Greeks to be the spot where the 
river-nymph Daphne, fleeing in terror from the pur- 
suit of Apollo, had sunk into the earth, whence the 
sacred laurel (or more truly, the bay) had instantly 
risen — a fable, of course, of the dawn vanishing before 
the sun, and of the heat causing trees to rise from 



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THE VICTORY, 287 



the ground, but really believed as a story by the 
Greeks. 

The metamorphosis of Daphne was commemorated 
by a splendid temple to Apollo and Artemis, sur- 
rounded by a wood of cypresses, myrtles, and bays, 
in whose cool dark shades were alleys impenetrable 
to the sun, and adorned with statues ; there was a 
beauteous garden full of flowers and fountains within, 
and the temple had an inmost shrine, whence an 
oracular voice had been wont to respond to the ques- 
tions of the worshippers. It was even said that here 
Hadrian had been promised the empire. 

Since the decline of paganism, though the lands of 
the temple still provided for its maintenance, the oracle 
had been little frequented, save by low, superstitious 
persons such as would now believe in fortune-telling. 
And to put a stop to this, Gallus, Julian's elder 
brother, had eleven years before caused the bodies 
of St. Babylas and his three young pupils to be in- 
terred in a church which he built in the grove, because 
it was believed that the presence of the remains of a 
saint would put to silence the demon voices that the 
Christians imagined to speak in an oracle. 

Since that time, the oracle had been dumb; and 
when Julian arrived, though he offered a whole heca- 
tomb of cattle, and poured forth rivers of wine before 
the altars, entreating that the god would speak and 
reply to his questions, " there was no voice, neither 
any to answer," until at last a muffled sound was 
caught, and was understood to be, " The dead ! the 
dead!" 



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288 THE VICTORY. 



Julian absolutely accepted the belief that it was 
the neighbourhood of Babylas' remains that silenced 
the oracle, and he therefore bade the Antiochians 
bear away the bones. 

The Christians regarded the order as the token of 
the power of the very corpse of a holy man to strike 
dumb the demons. They took the chest from beneath 
the altar, where they loved to place the remains 
of the martyrs in memory of the souls whom St. 
John had seen waiting beneath the Altar before the 
licavenly Mercy-seat, and placed it on a car, round 
which they wound such a solemn dance as David 
had once danced before the Ark of God, while 
they sang the Psalms by which Israel of old had 
triumphed in the downfall of Dagon before, ever 
ending their verses with the antiphon — 

" Confounded be all they that worship graven images, 
And that delight in vain gods 1 " 

All the city of Antioch was there, old and young, 
men and women, rejoicing in what they regarded as 
the false god's confession that he could not speak 
before the remains of the holy martyr. 

Julian was extremely angered, and bade Sallust, 
the prefect of the East, punish this demonstration 
severely ; but Sallust represented to him that the fer- 
vour of the people would only grow by persecution. 
Julian was too much offended not to insist, and 
accordingly several Christians were imprisoned, and 
one, a youth named Theodore, was for a whole day 
hung to the rack called the Little Horse, with two 



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THE VICTORY, 289 



torturers, one on each side ; but throughout he con- 
tinued to sing, — 

*' Confounded be all they that worship carved images, 
And that delight in vain gods I " 

Nor could one frown of pain be seen on his face. 
When at length he was taken down, he declared that 
he had indeed felt the torture at first, but that soon 
a young man had come to stand by him, bathing him 
with cool water, and wiping his limbs with a pure 
white cloth, and that his comfort and peace were such 
that he was only sorry to be taken down from the 
rack. 

In one of the chief streets was the house of a 
widow named Publia, who kept around her a number 
of young deaconesses, and every day as the Emperor 
passed her window he heard the song issue forth, — 

*' As for all the gods of the heathen, 
They are but silver and gold, the work of men's hands ; 
They that make them are like unto them, 
And so are all they that put their trust in them." 

Julian had magnanimity enough not to molest the 
women ; but when he heard that the Antiochians were 
satirizing his bearded figure, he wrote a satire on their 
effeminacy, calling it "The Beardhater." He also 
wrote other books, some of which are lost, and poems, 
none of which had much merit as compositions. At 
the same time, he ardently took up the cause of the 
Jews, to whom he wrote the following letter : — 

" The heavy taxes that have been unwarrantably 
laid upon you, and those vast sums of gold you have 

U 



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290 THE VICTORY. 



been forced to bring into the treasury, have far ex- 
ceeded those other oppressions and slaveries which 
in the times foregoing you have undergone : a great 
part of which I have seen with mine own eyes, and 
have discovered more from the writs that have been 
directed and issued against you. And at this time 
another assessment is prepared for you, which I have 
stopped and prohibited ; and out of detestation of so 
unjust an act, have burnt the warrants that lay ready 
among my records to be sent out against you, so that 
none may henceforth be able so much as to affright 
you with the report of such a piece of injustice. The 
cause of these injuries is not so much to be attributed 
to my brother Constantius of worthy memory, as to 
some men of barbarous principles and. atheistical 
tempers that stood about him and were fed at his 
table, whom I took with mine own hands and flung 
them headlong into a deep pit, where they irrecover- 
ably perished, that so the least monument might not 
remain of them. For my part, being resolved to 
show you all the favour and kindness I can, I have 
advised your brother Julus, the venerable patriarch, 
to stop the tribute that is imposed upon you, and that 
no man henceforth shall misuse your nation with such 
intolerable exactions, but that you may to all intents 
live peaceably and securely under my reign, and being 
free from further trouble, may recommend the pro- 
sperity of my empire in your more vigorous and 
hearty prayers to God, the great Creator, and best 
of Beings, who has been pleased with His most holy 
Right Hand to place the crown upon my head. I 



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THE VICTORY. 291 



could not otherwise expect this service from you ; for 
they that are oppressed with solicitude and cares are 
wont to be persons of narrow and contracted minds, 
and cannot with freedom lift up their hands to God 
in prayer, while those who are wholly freed from 
anxious cares, and enjoy a calm and composed state 
of mind, are fittest to intercede for the happiness of 
the Empire, and to offer up their devotions to the 
great God, who alone is able to order and dispose my 
reign to the best advantage and to the most excellent 
purposes, which I hope and pray He will do. This is 
that to which you ought principally to attend, that so 
having successfully managed my Persian expedition, 
and the holy city of Jerusalem (which you have so 
long and so earnestly desired to see re-inhabited), 
being rebuilt by my endeavours, I may dwell in it, 
and together with you there offer up our joint prayers 
to the Supreme Being of the world." 

This letter has been preserved among other works 
of Julian, and the genuineness can hardly be doubted. 
Here is all his generosity, and indignation at injustice 
and cruelty, together with the endeavour at largeness 
of mind which makes him try to blend his own wor- 
ship with that of the God of the Jews ; as a pious 
philosopher acknowledging a Supreme Being, but 
merely a creation of his own. By the atheistical 
men about Constantius, he means Christians, and his 
account of their destruction is figurative. 

The Jews* principles were, of course, as entirely 
opposed as those of the Christians to making their 

U 2 



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292 THE VICTORY, 

Living God into a mere Supreme Being, to be honoured 
by Julian's worshipping Him alternately with Jupiter 
or Apollo ; but the ray of hope might well make 
them tolerant, and when he sent for their chiefs, they 
eagerly came to his presence. He asked them why, 
since the Law of Moses enjoined sacrifice, they had 
ceased to offer any ; and on their reply that sacrifice 
could only be offered in the temple, which was now 
in ruins, he bade them return and rebuild it, and 
renew their ancient form of worship, promising them 
full assistance. It seems as though he had been 
moved by a certain real pity and generosity, of a 
human kind, and at the same time by a headstrong 
wish to prove our Lord a false prophet, while the 
bleeding victims of the old ritual seemed to him a 
point of similarity with the pagan rites. 

Soon multitudes of Jews arrived, eager and zealous 
for the rebuilding of the Temple. Their savings 
were poured forth to advance the work, the women 
sold their ornaments to raise the needful sum ; there 
was a grant from the treasury, and Alypius of Antioch, 
a friend of Julian, was appointed to oversee the work. 
Here at last, as it seemed to the Jews, was another 
Cyrus, another edict of restoration, a calling forth of 
Sion from her stones and dust. Unlike the time 
when the few and scanty lovers of the old home crept 
back in poverty from Babylon, and were encouraged 
not to despise the day of small things, the Jews 
thronged in numbers, and are even said to have 
brought silver spades, mattocks, and baskets to do 
honour to the work, the women toiled at bearing 



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THE VICTORY. 293 



away the rubbish, the best workmen and choicest 
materials were amply supplied, and the hill-side that 
had lain so long in desolation swarmed with an eager 
and rejoicing multitude. 

The Bishop of Jerusalem at that time was Cyril, a 
rustic-looking old man, hale, spare, rugged, the white 
hair of his forked beard growing high up on his cheeks. 
He and his Christians were not dispossessed of their 
churches, and they looked on patiently, enduring 
the triumph of their enemies, not doubting, but won- 
dering how God would show His truth, since did not 
these words stand in the prophecy that Daniel had 
heard from the mouth of an angel } " Know therefore 
and understand, that from the going forth of the com- 
mandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the 
Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore 
and two weeks : the street shall be built again, and the 
wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore 
and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for 
himself : and the people of the prince that shall come 
shall destroy the city and the sanctuary ; and the end 
thereof shall be with a flood ; and ... he shall cause 
the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the 
overspreading of abominations he shall make it de- 
solate, even until the consummation, and that deter- 
mined shall be poured upon the desolate." 

Had not Messiah the Prince come at the end of 
the weeks of years from the troublous times, when 
Nehemiah's armed workmen rebuilt the wall } Had 
He not been cut off, but not for Himself.? and had 
He not previously confirmed the prophecy, even with 



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a94 THE VICTORY. 



tears of sorrow for the city and the gorgeous temple, 
where not one stone should be left on another? 
" And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and 
shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jeru- 
salem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the 
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." And had not that 
terrible destruction come to pass? Were the times 
of the Gentiles fulfilled ? And yet St, Paul had spoken 
as though the restoration of the Jews were contingent 
on their accepting the faith. Cyril was undoubting, 
and, in spite of the Jews being now in full favour and 
prosperity, told them fearlessly that they could not 
shake off the Saviour's doom. 

The foundation was cleared, the great table-land of 
rock, that threshing-floor so mightily prepared and 
enlarged by Solomon, was cleared of rubbish, and 
stone and lime were ready, when a terrible storm 
came on, and whirled the piles of stone and heaps of 
lime into the valley beneath. Then followed an 
earthquake, and appearances like globes of fire 
darted from the ground, producing extreme terror. 
So tell the early Christian histories, and so preached 
St Chrysostom; and a heretic writer named Philo- 
storgius, who was born about five years later, adds 
the following incident, — namely, that while the work- 
men were busy on the foundations, they took up a 
stone which covered the mouth of a deep cave, cut 
out four square in the rock, and a man being let 
down found water in the lower part ; but on a shelf or 
pillar lay a book wrapped in a clean fine linen cloth, 
uninjured. On opening the book, it was found to be 



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THE VICTORY. 295 

the Gospel of St John, the first sentence being in 
especially large letters, so as at once to fix the atten- 
tion, and as it were make proclamation. 

" In the beginning was the Word, and 
THE Word was with God, and the Word was 
God." 

And thus to the Christians it seemed as if the 
endeavour of Julian to refute prophecy had only 
resulted in his own discomfiture, the manifestation 
of God's power, and the proclamation of His Son. 

Honeycombed with caves as Mount Moriah is, 
serving some for drains, some for hiding-places, 
nothing could be more probable than that this book 
of the Gospel should have been placed there for 
safety in some persecution. The wonderful earth- 
quake and the outbreak of flames have been much 
disputed ; but the evidence respecting them is almost 
as full as it can be, and even the fragments of the 
temple show traces of the attempt, for there is one 
portion evidently built by a classical architect, but 
later than the time of the foundation of ^Elia, since 
it contains an inscription of Hadrian's, upside down. 

Julian was much enraged, and as he marched 
on to Persia, sent commands that an amphitheatre 
should be built at Jerusalem, wherein, it was reported, 
he intended to have the principal Christian clergy 
thrown to the wild beasts. 

How far this was his purpose cannot be known. 
He was certainly becoming exasperated, as he felt at 
every turn the real strength of the religion he was 
trying to crush, and the hopeless weakness of the 



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2q6 the victory. 



paganism he was striving to bolster up. He was still 
a young man, and must soon have lost the glamour 
which now invested heathen philosophy in his eyes, 
and either have opened them to its vanity, or closed 
them in the utter blindness of guilt and sensuality. 
Meantime, it was glory that he sought. Active, hardy, 
resolute, he led his host through the desert, obtained 
a fleet of i,ioo ships on the Euphrates, passed Baby- 
lon without accepting its desolation as another proof 
of God's unerring truth, took and burnt several cities, 
dug out one of the old choked canals, and conveyed 
his fleet from the Euphrates to the Tigris, defeated 
the Persians, and laid siege to Ctesiphon. He might 
almost deem himself another Alexander, but those 
willow-shaded banks had seen Alexander's fate. 

Sapor the Long-lived, the persecutor of Simeon and 
besieger of Nisibis, took the field, and sent a treach- 
erous nobleman to pretend to be a deserter and to 
inveigle Julian into pursuing his march into the depths 
of Persia, first burning his ships. June weather, in a 
parching desert destitute of food or water, produced 
exceeding misery ; but Julian's bravery kept up his 
army : he shared all their sufferings, and gained the 
victory in many skirmishes, until in an attack to the 
repulse of which he had rushed defenceless, since the 
heat rendered armour intolerable, he was pierced in 
the side by a javelin, and sank forward on his horse's 
neck. It is said that he took up a handful of his 
blood, and casting it in the air, cried, " Galilaean, thou 
hast conquered ! " And indeed, bred up a Christian, 
his soul could not but have retained the sense of the 



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FHE VICTORY, 297 



reality that his intellect struggled to shake off. They 
laid him on his shield, carried him to his tent, and 
dressed his wound ; he tried to rise and return to the 
battle, but found he could not move, and resolved to 
die with the grave, proud firmness of a philosopher. 
He talked to his friends of the nature of the soul 
until midnight, June 26, 363, when he died in his 
thirty-second year, after having reigned three years. 

Jovian, a brave soldier and Christian, led home 
the army from its perilous position ; and with Julian 
paganism perished — or rather, his endeavour to revive 
it had shown how absolutely dead it was. And as *' the 
vain false gods of Hellas" became utterly forgotten, 
and Artemis and Apollo were dethroned, the hymns 
of the Christians rang out in praise, "Thine is the 
victory, and the glory, and the majesty!" for the 
three hundred years of battle had ended at length in 
the full and complete triumph of the Cross of Christ. 

The faith first preached on the blue waves of the 
Lake of Tiberias was ringing from the Grampian hills 
to the deserts of Sahara, from the shores of the 
Atlantic to the banks of the Indus, and St. John's 
whole nature and influence had assuredly had no 
small part in this great triumph. Patient to wait, 
resolute to act, intense in love, strong and clear in 
faith, he had formed and trained the champions who 
followed him, some to contend for the truth in words, 
some to witness it in their death, and all by their 
lives. We have heard them, now arguing with the 
heathen, now with the Jew, now with the heretic ; we 
have watched them in their tender care of the flock, 



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298 THE VICTORY. 



their ready forgiveness, their fearless resistance of 
wrong, whether in high or low, in emperor or foreign 
foe ; their love of unity and concord, and their joyous 
acceptance of suffering and death. We sing the same 
praises, we pray the same prayers, we hold the same 
belief; we have, with them, "One Lord, one Faith, 
one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is 
above all, and through all, and in you all." May we 
be as true in heart as they, and, with them, experience 
indeed that " This is the Victory that overcometh the 
world, even our Faith 1 " 



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CHAPTER XIX. 

THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

" Ever, as earth's wild war-cries heighten, 
The Cross upon the brow will brighten.*' 

Keble. 

The victory over heathenism was gained ; the temples 
were closed, and left to fall into decay ; the halls 
of justice were turned into churches ; the idols were 
demolished, or buried in the ruins of their temples ; 
and the rich marbles were carried away to be the 
decoration of churches decked with all the splendour 
that Imperial power could lavish. 

We can hardly part with the history of the Beloved 
Apostle and his pupils without following up the out- 
line of the Churches where his influence chiefly 
prevailed, or which were planted by himself or by 
his disciples. 

The outer conflict was over, but conflicts from 
within raged the more, as error flourished in times 
of peace. Restless Greek minds questioned and 
defined every doctrine, until the mind was confused 
by conflicting statements of the mysteries that were 



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300 THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

never meant to be curiously pryed into. The age of 
councils began, when bishops collected from all parts 
of the Church to consult on the theories that were 
adulterating the faith handed down from the Apostles. 
Ephesus and Laodicea were among the scenes of 
these gatherings of the Church, and the former was 
evidently held in high honour at the time, as the 
burial-place of the great St. John. Little did she 
fear that her candlestick would ever be removed, 
when she was crowded with churches and worshippers, 
and received the praise of St. Cyril of Alexandria 
in his sermon to the assembly of bishops. 

But the canker was eating deep into the Eastern 
Churches. In some it was curious, irreverent meddling 
with matters of faith ; in some, it was the old worship 
of wealth ; in others, the gay, careless love of amuse- 
ment which made the races and shows of the amphi- 
theatre the sole thought of the people. At Antioch, 
in especial, the citizens were full of frivolity, thought- 
lessness, and fickleness. There it was that they 
overturned and insulted the statues of the Emperor 
Theodosius in an access of fury at a new tax, and 
then waited in fasting, prayer, and trembling, listening 
to the stringent sermons of St. John Chrysostom, or 
Golden-mouth, till the Emperor had granted pardon 
to their humble intercession. 

Fewer internal agitations moved the soberer 
Churches of the West: Lyons, Nimes, Aries, and 
the others of Provincia and of the rest of Gaul. 
Their bishops lived in quiet, learned calm, and held 
numerous synods for the regulation of their Churches, 



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THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. io\ 

and their influence and that of Spain spread far out 
to the North and West, among their Celtic brethren. 
Their mixed Greek origin was by no means for- 
gotten ; for though the Liturgy of Gaul, Spain, and 
Britain was in Latin, it closely resembled that in use 
at Ephesus and the ^ other Asiatic cities, and which 
both the East and West believed to have been handed 
down to them from St John himself. At Aries, up to 
the sixth century, hymns in the Greek tongue were 
still sung in public worship ; but some of the most 
notable hymns the Church possesses were first known 
to have been used in Gaul. The glorious Te Deum 
is traced to have been first sung at Aries and its 
adjacent cities, on the ground whence so many of the 
" Noble Army of Martyrs " had gone to praise God 
in heaven. The Veni Creator is also thought to be 
Gallican ; and the Litanies — those fervent supplica- 
tions where the whole congregation constantly uplift 
their voice — are likewise of a Gaulish origin. 

Moreover, the Celtic Churches in Britain and 
Ireland, though not in Gaul, preserved the Eastern 
custom of counting Easter by the fourteenth day 
of the moon, appealing to St. John and St. Poly- 
carp as having so taught them. In one remark- 
able point, Ireland, that farthest of Western isles» 
showed her love and reverence for the holy Divine of 
Patmos, for she loved to build her churches in sevens : 
Pleiad clusters of tiny churches, in her green vales set 
between wild hills, or on the very shore of that 
broad Atlantic that seemed the boundary of the 
world. There, at the very farthest point of Europe, 



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302 THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

unheard of by the exile of Patmos, save as among 
the isles of the Gentiles, was the revelation of the 
seven stars and seven lamps commemorated by 
barbarian Celts, with uncouth names, who prayed 
by turns at each rude stone-built altar, for the 
Universal Church throughout the world, figured in 
those seven. 

Need, indeed, tnere was of prayer, for the trials of 
the Church were becoming terrible. The Empire had 
broken in two, and the fierce German nations were 
overrunning the Western continent. It was the 
Roman cities of the Province in Gaul that stood firm, 
and gradually won the Frank victors to Christianity 
and civilization. As their Latin tongue still attests, 
they never were conquered and peopled by their 
enemies, like Northern France, but remained witnesses 
of the blessings of truth and peace, till the whole 
country round had yielded to the education they 
impressed on it. 

Britain, after being almost entirely heathenized by 
the Angles and Saxons, all save the few Celts of the 
West, had the Gospel brought back to her by the 
Frank Queen Bertha and the Roman missionary 
Augustine, but without losing the ancient liturgy, 
that had no doubt come with Pothinus from the 
East, which contained Polycarp's dying Eucharistic 
hymn, and which probably had, in part at least, been 
moulded by St. John's remembrance of the worship 
he had seen around the Throne. The great Pope 
Gregory counselled Augustine to interfere as little 
as possible with the devotional offices to which the 



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THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 303 

scattered British Christians were accustomed ; and 
thus it was that the old form, so dear, among other 
reasons, for St John's sake, has never been super- 
seded here. And moreover, our first really great 
Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore, was a Greek, 
from St. Paul's own city of Tarsus in Cilicia ; and 
much of the framework and arrangements of dioceses 
and parishes that have already existed more than 
twelve hundred years, was organized by him on the 
model of the Churches of Asia. 

Meantime, as the faults of the East had been 
deeper, so the judgment on her was heavier. In 614 
a Persian Cyrus, or Khoosroo, really came to Jeru- 
salem ; but it was to pillage, enslave, burn, and destroy. 
He made a dreadful devastation, and even advanced 
as far as the shores of Asia Minor ; and though the 
Emperor Heraclius was roused, and gallantly re- 
deemed the cause of the Christian Empire, yet there 
was a more terrible scourge at hand. 

Out of the depths of Arabia came that terrible 
race whom St. John's vision of the crowned locusts 
is believed to have prefigured, the Saracen Arabs, 
whom their prophet, Mahomet, had taught to spread 
his doctrine by the sword. That sword avenged the 
blood of the Parthian Church upon the Persians, 
whose last Sassanid King, Yezdigerd, perished 
miserably, a fugitive in the mountains, like Darius 
before him, and visited on the Christians their many 
sins by snatching from them their beloved holy city 
of Jerusalem. Antioch, already much damaged by 
earthquakes, fell into their hands, and they even 



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304 THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

9 

advanced to the very shores of the Bosphorus ; and 
another stream flowed along the north of Africa, 
through Spain, into France. But there, Charles Martel, 
one of the Franks whom the true-hearted Gallic 
Christians had rendered the foremost champions of 
the Church, overthrew their armies at Tours, and 
saved the West from their dominion. 

Unhappy Asia Minor was meanwhile to become a 
battle-field for full six hundred years. The Maho- 
metan powers of the East, and the Christian emperors 
of Constantinople, there fought out their long and 
weary battle, and those splendid cities of old, con- 
quered and reconquered, sacked and resacked, saw 
their commerce pass away, their buildings decay, 
while the inhabitants withered into hopeless apathy, 
ignorance, deceit, and love of petty gain, all the 
natural faults of the Eastern character. The long 
smouldering rivalries between the Latin and Greek 
Churches became fiercer as love waxed cold ; and 
after a thousand years of union, in 1054 the dis- 
sension grew so hot, that they parted asunder, and 
lost that oneness so prized by saints of old. Then, 
when the vigorous Western nations would fain have 
attacked Mahometanism at its own home, and con- 
centrated their forces on the rescue of Jerusalem, led 
on by Godfrey of Lorraine, a descendant of Charles 
Martel, and Raymond of Toulouse, a Provengal prince, 
the dislike and misunderstanding of Eastern and 
V/estern Christians were so strong as to overcome 
even their enmity to the Mahometans. Antioch was 
gained, but unfairly kept from its lawful Greek owner 



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THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 305 

by the cunning Norman-Italian Boemond, and on his 
death it was lost again to Christendom. Jerusalem 
was delivered from the Mahometans for a brief space, 
but the Western Church insulted the Eastern, and the 
Crusaders showed themselves unworthy to be en- 
trusted with the sacred treasure they had been allowed 
to gain. 

For nearly a hundred years Jerusalem was held by 
Latin Christians, who struggled hard to retain it, but 
who were too often men of sinful lives, succumbing 
to the temptations to luxury to which the warm 
climate disposed them, and their strength was only 
kept up by successive crusades from Europe. In 1186 
they lost Jerusalem, and after another hundred years 
the last remnant of the crusading possessions in Pales- 
tine was wrenched from them, and the Mahometan 
power grasped all the spots that Christianity holds 
most sacred, though still not desecrating all the 
churches, and permitting the approach of pilgrims to 
worship at these hallowed shrines. 

And meantime, in the West, in Provence, though the 
cities and churches had once served as the instructors 
of the Northern Franks, after a time there crept over 
them the intellectual sensuality and the sentimental 
luxury and self-indulgence that had been the tempta- 
tion of the Asiatic Greeks in their late heathen days. 
It was the corruption of worn-out civilization, when 
the salt had lost its savour, and the shameful im- 
morality and fickle excitability of the Proven5als, 
only feebly disguised by the chivalry they had learnt 
of their Northern neighbours, reflected back the gross 

X 



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jo6 THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

licence, seditious fierceness, and idle speculations of 
Antioch and Ephesus. 

No wonder, then, that the country was ripe for 
confusing itself with one of the worn-out. heresies that 
had arisen in the metaphysical minds of the Greeks 
of old. The Persian Manes had, as we have seen^ 
in very early times taught a strange mixture of doc- 
trine, partly Christian, but with the Magian doctrine 
of two equal powers of good and evil brought pro- 
minently forward, and giving a sanction to much 
looseness of life. This Manichean doctrine had done 
much harm to the Persian Christians before their 
persecution, and it had since appeared in Bulgaria ; in 
fact, it had smouldered on among the inhabitants of 
the valleys of the mountain-belt of Europe, and was at 
length detected in the Pyrenean valleys, and among the 
inhabitants of Provence. The Roman Church, with her 
constant habit of assimilating all customs to her own, 
and supplanting all that was distinctive in national 
Churches, had no doubt, in some degree, alienated 
the hearts of the Provengals ; and their Greek clever- 
ness, as well as their voluptuous habits, were both 
preparations to them to accept the teaching which 
was called Albigensian, from Alby, the place where 
a synod was held for its condemnation. Probably 
the heretical doctrine of old was presented in a 
modified form ; the amount to which it prevailed 
may have been much exaggerated, and in some cases 
the apparent adherence to the heresy arose in great 
measure from the difficulties and offences that Rome 
was throwing before reflecting minds. 



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THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 30; 

And times were changed since the censure of the 
Church was the only punishment that fell upon heresy. 
Now, men had persuaded themselves that the scandal 
must be purged away by fire and sword. Crusades 
were set on foot against the Albigenses ; those who * 
would have defended them for the sake of justice 
and mercy were treated as equally guilty with the 
offenders, and for a century there prevailed all the 
horrors of war and rapine, until nearly all the dis- 
tinctive grace, cultivation, and prosperity of Provence 
had been swept away ; the fields, once beautiful with 
care and cultivation, became mere wastes of stone, 
and the almost Latin tongue, once beloved by poets, 
sunk into a mere dialect. 

But the state of these Churches was happier than 
that of their mother Churches in Asia, the original 
seven. The Saracen power had indeed ebbed, but a 
more fatal wave had advanced, — namely, the Othman 
Turks, from the centre of Asia. Fierce and steady 
warriors, they had none of the grace, the mercifulness, 
the sensitiveness of the Saracen Arab ; they were 
unconquerably rude, apathetic, proud, and indifferent, 
and whatever was conquered by them fell under a 
doom of decay. It was about the year 1300 that 
the sons of Othman portioned out Asia Minor between 
them, and proceeded to the conquest. Ephesus, then 
still a city, was taken in 1306; Smyrna, important 
as a seaport, soon followed; Pergamus fell in 133S ; 
but Philadelphia, small, far from the sea, unimportant 
and neglected by the Greek emperor, was held out 
by her brave and constant inhabitants for full eighty 
X 2 



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3o8 THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

years ; and when at length they were forced to sur- 
render to the Turks, it was with honour, without 
suffering insult, and with terms that preserved it a 
Christian city still. Surely Philadelphia realized the 
promise, "Because thou hast kept the word of My 
patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temp- 
tation, which shall come upon all the world to try 
them that dwell upon the earth." 

Under the Turkish power, the Christian faith has 
languished, and prosperity declined. Careless of all 
save present ease, the Turkish governors uniformly 
exercised such exactions as to paralyse all industry, 
and make the only safety for their unfortunate 
subjects lie in abject poverty. Inhabitants have 
retired from the cities, and the walls have crumbled, 
or their stones have been removed to furnish materials 
for wretched huts. The only ones of the cities that 
have not thus perished are high-spirited and divinely- 
blest Philadelphia, and Smyrna, the place that was 
almost equally marked for commendation, and which 
is so convenient a port as to have continued ever 
since a thickly-peopled place, a resort and mart 
for all nations, but no thanks to the Turks, since 
those who have kept the city alive have been 
Greek, Italian, Armenian, and latterly English — all 
Christians. 

The threat of the removed candlestick of Ephesus 
has been most surely though slowly performed. And 
who can look on the ruins of that once favoured 
Church without fear and dread? Twelve centuries 
passed ; yet the vision was for the appointed time ! 



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THE CHURCHES OF ST, JOHN. 309 

Those daughters of Ephesus, Nlmes and Aries, 
and the other Proven5al Churches, still showed that 
thoughtfulness and inquiry inherited from the Greeks, 
for when, in the sixteenth century, men began to 
inquire into the authority by which the Roman 
Church issued her mandates, it was Southern France 
that most eagerly and most permanently accepted 
the Reformation. There the recoil from doctrines 
and practices that could scarcely be traced to 
Scripture was so strong that even the strongest 
foes of the Reformation were forced to consent 
to the Calvinistic worship being held in Ntmes. 
There is no need to dwell on those unhappy times, 
when virtue and candour were so utterly wanting 
on the part of those whose station rendered them 
the champions of the Church, that earnest-minded 
men lost patience, and made the divisions that have 
never yet been healed. All that remains to be re- 
marked is, that where the blood of early Christians 
was shed in Gallic amphitheatres, there again did 
men with hearts as resolute to bear witness to the 
truth perish in the flames, and women wear out a 
whole lifetime in captivity. There too, Paul Rabaut, 
a man of apostolical piety, fervour, and resolution, 
spent a long life of wanderings and perils in preaching 
the Gospel ; and in the old Greek city of Marseilles, 
the good Bishop Belzunce showed himself a true and 
holy Christian, by the love that is ready to give up 
life, when he fearlessly ministered to his plague- 
stricken flock. 

Never has the voice of prayer become silent in 



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3IO THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN. 

these Churches, for at least sixteen centuries, save 
during those miserable years at the end of the 
last century, when France had disowned her God in 
her madness, and when every sacred building was 
closed, all voice of prayer forbidden. Yet, even then, 
in many a secret chamber, many a dark vault, many 
a woodland valley, did faithful hearts gather round 
the proscribed and hunted clergy, and dare every- 
thing, like their forefathers of old, rather than not 
seek the God of their strength. 

Lyons, already a great manufacturing city, suffered 
most terribly in the convulsions of the Revolution, 
and was at one time laid almost desolate ; the inha- 
bitants were mowed down by discharges of grape-shot 
in the squares, the walls were overthrown, and it was 
declared to be no longer a city. However, Lyons 
revived again, and with calmer times came the re- 
establishment of the Catholic Church, and likewise 
freedom of conscience for those who differed from 
her. Ntmes was the last place where a Huguenot 
was slain for his faith, and Nimes was the first where 
a Huguenot place of worship was publicly opened ; 
and the venerable Paul Rabaut, after the sufferings 
and persecutions of four generations, after having lost 
his eldest son in the storms of the Revolution, offered 
up the opening prayer, with his face streaming with 
tears of thankfulness. 

Since those days when religion was again owned in 
France, the battle between evil and good has con- 
tinued to rage, even as it was shown to St. John that 
it must do unto the last day. The Church and the 



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THE CHURCHES OF ST. JOHN, 311 

world, truth and deceit, good and bad, must struggle 
on together, while eternal worship goes on around the 
Throne in heaven, and every holy death on earth bears 
a Christian across the boundary to join in the songs 
he has tried to echo on earth. And though "evil 
men and seducers wax worse and worse," and the 
" love of many has grown cold," yet in some of St. 
John's own Eastern Churches the same simple quiet 
constant faith and practice have gone on unquenched 
by Mahometan oppression for all these ages ; and in 
the West, the strife with the godlessness and faithless- 
ness of the present world is being maintained by bold 
resolute faith, and by works of love and charity, such 
as may still befit the disciples of St John, the Apostle 
of faith and love. 



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CHAPTER XX. 

PRESENT ASPECT OF ST. JOHN's CHURCHES. 

" What though winds and waves assail thee, 
What though foes in scorn bewail thee, 

Heaven-bound Ark of Liberty: 
Mid the sheeted lightning's glare. 
Mid the thunder's cloudy lair, 
Where dark waves meet lurid air, 

Shalt thou breast the stonny sea." 

Isaac Williams. 

One glance shall be cast round at the present aspect 
of the spots that derive their faith from St John the 
Divine and his followers. 

Of Ephesus, in her desolate state among the salt 
marches of the Cayster, and the thickets of her 
quarried hill, we have spoken already, and shown 
how the few poverty-stricken Mahometans still cluster 
in the village that bears the name of the Holy Divine. 

With Smyrna it is far otherwise. The traveller 
approaching from the Archipelago enters a gulf, 
crowded with shipping, and guarded by high moun- 
tains on either side, and one immediately above the 
city, with a castle on the summit, and the slope 
adorned with the dark cypresses which the Turks 
plant in their burial-grounds. Below glitters the city, 
adorned with towers, domes and minarets, and divided 



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PRESENT ASPECT OF THE CHURCHES. 313 

into four quarters, for Turks, Franks, Jews, and Ar- 
menians. It possesses many churches, though that 
which is believed to have been the first has become a 
mosque ; nor has the line of bishops, nor the Christian 
worship, ever ceased there since St Polycarp received 
his promise. Pass on, and the hill, or berg that gave 
name to Pergamus, rises high as ever, and beneath it 
stand the tall minarets and taller cypresses of the 
modern city of Bergamah — a place of narrow, crooked 
streets of modern houses, squalid and dirty, with 
remains of fine old stone churches among them, 
showing " like vast fortresses among mean barracks of 
wood." Outside the city, a single graceful arch, and 
a few fallen ruins, enable scholars to trace the site of 
the temple of Asclepios ; but the stones have been 
mostly ground into mortar by the Turks, and heaps 
of broken ruins alone show by the rich ornaments of 
each fragment how lavish was the splendour of the 
temples in the grove of Pergamus. But Christianity 
is by no means extinguished there : for out of the 
4,000 inhabitants, no less than 3,300 hold the faith, 
and have held it patiently through their five hundred 
years of adversity and oppression. 

Thyatira, nestling under a background of hills, may 
be found by the name of Ak-hissar, or the White 
Castle. There the dyeing of scarlet is still carried 
on, and large bales are weekly sent from thence to 
Smyrna, so that the place is still inhabited, and there 
are Christians enough to have one church. Far better 
off is Thyatira than her neighbour Sardis, where the 
city has dwindled to a miserable little village called 



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314 PRESENT ASPECT OF 

Sart, standing in the midst of splendid ruins, the most 
noted of which are two enormous columns that are 
thought to have belonged to the temple of the mother 
of the gods, and to have stood from the time of Croesus 
to the present day, through all the splendour and all 
the decay of Sardis. A great empty amphitheatre 
left desolate, shows how the Sardians amused them- 
selves when living, and vast burial-mounds mark out 
this true city of the dead, where once indeed there 
w^as a name for life ; but the spiritual has been fol- 
lowed by temporal death. 

Those who visit Philadelphia, or, as the Turks call it, 
Attah Shehi, the city of God, are struck by the sight 
of a tall column, which stands on high, as if to keep 
in memory the promise to the victorious Philadelphia!! 
of being a pillar in the house of God. It is a Christian 
column, for it bears the figures of saints engraven on 
it The city still has many Christian inhabitants 
and a bishop, five churches, and twenty more disused ; 
but that which is believed to have been the original 
building where St John's message was read, has been 
taken from them, and is now a mosque. The streets 
of the city are as wretched and disgusting as those of 
all Turkish places, and Philadelphia must have greatly- 
declined since the time of her gallant resistance, but 
nevertheless she remains a witness to the minute truth 
of prophecy. 

No less so does Laodicea, the lukewarm city so 
sternly warned. How the judgment came we know- 
not The effects are visible enough in the utter deso- 
lation in which lie the vast ruins extending over seven 



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S7. JOHN'S CHURCHES. 315 

hills. A racecourse, three theatres, and numerous 
fragments of temples and other buildings, lie in their 
loneliness under the hot Eastern sun, and undergo no 
change save when rocked by the earthquakes which 
have aided in the ruin. 

Thus has it been with the Seven Churches whom 
the Lord in heaven deigned to address with words that 
time has so exactly verified. But they were only the 
first shoots of the great Christian tree : their boughs 
grew forth, and spread into other lands, and there, it 
may be hoped, are still green, and not without fruit. 
Athens, the wise and the learned, did indeed fall for a 
time under the Turkish blight, but it was for a com- 
paratively brief space. She is again a free and a 
Christian city, where the much-enduring Greek Church 
is lifting her head again, and a brave, eager nation are 
being trained to use the freedom they have won. The 
Church of Quadratus has been faithful through many 
varied sufferings ; and though learning and intelligence 
have been lost under oppression, and shiftiness and 
deceit have been fostered by terror, yet it may be 
hoped that the good will prevail, if only the old peril 
of the Greek mind — love of science, falsely so called 
— does not lead her able men to forget their faith. 
Still Athens is, to those who see her without, one 
of the loveliest of cities, even despoiled as she has 
been. The gold-coloured marble of her graceful 
Parthenon still towers on her hill, and the city lies in 
the lap of the mountain gleaming in the brilliant sun, 
and recalling many a thought of the wise and brave 
men who struggled after the truth of old, and of 



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3i6 PRESENT ASPECT OF 

him who at length, heard and understood by few, 
proclaimed the Unknown God, whom they had 
ignorantly worshipped. 

Let us pass from viewing Athens to the city where 
Trophinus ruled of old. It is a quiet old sleepy city, 
l)dng on the bank of the broad Rhone, just before the 
river divides into the many streams that stagnate to 
the sea, through marshes that exhale ague and fever. 
It is surrounded with quaint old walls, and the streets 
are of mean houses, nor does it look as if it had ever 
been a capital giving name to a kingdom. But there 
the Romans have set their mark. There is an immense 
amphitheatre, an arch of triumph, two temples, and 
many a relic of those days when Roman power made 
her roads, erected her buildings, provided her sports, 
and guessed not that the despised and down-trodden 
Christian should turn her courts of justice into 
churches, which should echo with an unending voice 
of praise of One God and of the Crucified, for a 
length of years far beyond that which any temple at 
Rome could count ; and that her amphitheatres would 
obtain their chief interest from being the scenes of 
the death of the martyrs who served for her sport 
and derision. 

It would be well if this could be said of every 
amphitheatre ; but that of Ntmes is still used for the 
remnants of those cruel exhibitions that were the 
shame of heathen Rome, and that the Church de- 
nounced from the first. Bull-baiting is still carried on 
at Ntmes in the magnificent amphitheatre that the in- 
habitants thus render their disgrace. It is one of the 



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ST. JOHN'S CHURCHES. 317 

best preserved among all the Roman remains, and shows 
still the seats, tier behind tier, where the spectators 
sat to watch the sports in the arena beneath. It is, as 
a modem French writer well calls it, a giant's skeleton, 
and for miles on miles away, joining two mountains 
together, lies the wonderful Pont de Gard, the three 
tiers of arches one above the other, raised as an aque- 
duct to feed Nimes with water, by Agrippa, the son- 
in-law of Augustus. It was in course of building 
when the Divine Founder of Christianity was a babe 
at Nazareth, and now both this and the other marvel- 
lous buildings at Ntmes are but like fossil remains 
testifying to the huge strength and skill of the terrible 
Fourth Beast with teeth of iron of Daniel's vision. 
That power has vanished; but how living, how eternally 
full of life, is that spirit which it strove to trample out, 
is witnessed not only by the ancient cathedral and the 
numerous churches of Nlmes, but by the great and wise 
statesman who was there born among the persecuted 
Huguenots, grew up amid the perils of the Revolu- 
tion, and who ever since, through evil report and good 
report, in power and in retirement, has never ceased 
to set forth both by word and deed the lessons of the 
Gospel ; and even now, in the calm of old age, has 
sent forth an earnest call to us of these latter days to 
fight resolutely the good fight of faith and truth that 
was so long ago shadowed forth to the Apostles. To 
say that M. Guizot was bom at Nimes is to say that 
the living power of the faith is as strong in our day 
as when it nerved men to be the prey of beasts 
within those arcades of the oval theatre. 



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3iS PRESENT ASPECT OF 

Lyons, the city of Pothinus and Irenaeus^ has less 
to tell of its cmcient memories than the other homes 
of the martyrs ; far less than Vienne, with the pyra- 
midal monument of Severus to tell of the death oi 
the persecutor, and the beautiful cathedral of St. 
Maurice to testify to the victory of the faith. Lyons 
has indeed the foundations of the amphitheatre where 
Blandina and Attalus were a spectacle to men and 
angels, and in the times of superstition, their remains, 
the ugh well known to have been swept away by the 
Rhone, were said to be recovered, and were enshrined 
in the Cathedral of St. John ; but Lyons has been too 
often desolated, and has since become too thriving 
and populous, to preserve much remnant of the past 
It is the great centre of the silk manufactures of 
France. " It is the place where fourteen roads and 
two rivers meet, bringing with them orders, and taking 
away goods. The divinity of the town is trade. . . . 
Yes, Lyons is actually a lively and animated town, 
but it is the liveliness and animation of a machine ; 
and the tic-tac of its frame is the only pulsation its 
heart is acquainted with. And when the beatings of its 
heart cease from want of work, the town is like a 
paralysed body to which no activity can be restored. 
Thirty thousand frames stop, nearly sixty thousand 
persons are without bread ; and Hunger, the mother 
of Insurrection, is soon howling through the tortuous 
streets of the second city in France." 

Howling — for these are the children of the men 
who tore Irenaeus to pieces in the streets. But even 
in the busy marts and narrow streets where love of 



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ST. JOHN'S CHURCHES. 319 

gain might seem to stifle all deeper and higher 
thoughts, the hardworking cur^, and the unwearied 
sister of mercy, the toiling mother and the dutiful 
children, are no doubt still keeping alive the memory 
of the good old lesson, "Little children, love one 
another." 

Again ; on the green banks of the twin lakes of 
Glendalough, shut in by the circle of mountains, lie 
tinted with golden lichen, the fragments of the Seven 
Churches around their tall stone cross and mysterious 
round tower. Or, again, close to the mighty Atlantic, 
in the midst of the rocks of Connemara, lies another of 
these groups in their grand loneliness. A third cluster 
lies in the wild vale of Clonmacnoise. They were 
raised at a time when devotion was more valued than 
edification, and the idea of the worship at the Seven 
Altars in memory of the Seven Churches was more 
in esteem than that of accommodating a congregation 
of worshippers, and hermits would devote themselves 
to maintaining the voice of prayer within them, or 
keeping their lights burning to shine out at night like 
the seven stars ; and on certain festival-days the whole 
population would collect around the buildings in the 
open air, to take their share in the devotions offered, 
and to look for a blessing. Even now, though change 
and separation, poverty and neglect, have ruined 
most of the buildings, and left the others hoary and 
forlorn, yet the yearly festival is still held by the 
peasantry and their priests at the remaining altar of 
Glendalough, and the families who have the right of 
burial around have made the solitary valley a strange 



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320 PRESENT ASPECT OF THE CHURCHES. 

city of the dead. Few who haunt the spot, whether 
travellers or peasant devotees, think of those frag- 
ments in connexion with the Seven of the Apocalypse, 
and yet they are a witness how far the thought of St 
John had extended. 

But among all these the Western form of the 
liturgy of Ephesus has passed away. Rome insisted 
on uniformity, and superseded it in France, in Spain, 
and in those Irish Churches that own her dominion. 
The Reformers of France dispensed with all forms 
of prayer, but the English have only translated, not 
disused, their ancient devotions ; and thus it is that, 
while other places may show closer connexion with 
St John and his pupils, it is the English communion 
at home, in her colonies, and in America, that tunes 
her prayer and praise to the echoes from Polycarp's 
canopy of flame, and, it may be, from St. John's 
vision at Patmos. 

However this may be, the undoubted immediate 
words of St John himself are in the hands of all. 
And may each one who prizes the blessed "spiritual* 
Gospel, the stern warnings yet tender exhortations of 
the three Epistles, and the awful and mysterious fore- 
shadowings of the Apocalypse, so show his faith, 
hope, and love, as to prove himself indeed a pupil of 
St. John, the Evangelist and the Beloved. 

" Stand thereiore, girt about with faith, 
Your burning lamps in hand ; 
And standing, listen for your Lord, 
And till His coming, stand. *\ 

LONDON : R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS, BREAD STREET HILL. 



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COMPARATIVE POLITICS.— Lectures at the Royal Institution. To which is 
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HERTEL.— 10VERPRESSURE IN HIGH SCHOOLS IN DENMARK- 
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HOLE.— A GENEALOGICAL STEMMA OF THE KINGS OF ENGLAND 
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HOOKER AND BALL.— MOROCCO and the GREAT ATLAS: 
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HUTTON.— ESSAYS THEOLOGICAL AND LITERARY. By R. H. 
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JEVONS.— LETTERS AND JOURNAL OF W. STANLEY JEVONS. 
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JOHNSON'S LIVES OF THE POETS.— The Six Chief Lives 
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MARGARY.— THE TOURNEY OF AUGUSTUS RAYMOND MAR- 
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MAURICE.— LETTERS FROM DONEGAL IN 1886. By a Lady 
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